MEMPHIS – Athletic Director Jeff Cleanthes announced the hiring of Lauren Avant Sumski, former Rhodes College and Memphis high school All-American, as the new head women's basketball coach on Thursday afternoon.
"When we discovered Lauren had a passion to continue in the coaching world, we knew she would be an amazing asset for our department and to lead our women's basketball team in the future," said Cleanthes. "We are so excited to be able to bring back one of our own Rhodes Lynx to lead a talented group of young women on and off the basketball court. This is a great day for Rhodes College and the city of Memphis!"
Sumski takes over for her former head coach, Matt Dean, the winningest coach in women's hoops history, who announced his retirement from coaching towards the end of the 2016-17 season to focus on administrative duties.
"I'm really excited for our current players and the college," said Dean. "Lauren will be a great ambassador for Rhodes and our women's basketball program."
Sumski is a 2014 graduate of Rhodes with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a pre-medicine concentration. While at Rhodes, she played three years of basketball after playing her freshman season at the University of Tennessee.
After battling injuries during her freshman at Tennessee and sophomore year at Rhodes, she played her final two years for Rhodes injury free, leading the team to a combined 50-8 record. She helped set and then tie the school record with 25 wins in a season. Her team won the regular season and conference titles both years, advancing to the national tournament twice, earning two first round wins.
"This is a proud day for myself," added Dean. I'm looking forward to watching her team's compete and continue the outstanding tradition of Lynx basketball."
During her career, Sumski helped Rhodes earn their first every NCAA DIII national ranking, finishing the year in the top 25. As a senior, Sumski averaged 25.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. She averaged 20.2 points and 8.6 rebounds as a junior, preceded by 11.7 points and 3.9 rebounds as a sophomore in just 14 games.
In 2014, Sumski was a National Player of the Year Finalist. She was a two time WBCA All-American, USA and DIII South Region Player of the Year and first team All-American.She was second in the nation in scoring at 25.6 points per game and led the nation in points per minute. She was the SAA Player of the Year, scoring champion, first team all-conference, and was named to the academic honor roll. Sumski was twice named SAA Tournament MVP.
She joined the 1,000-point club with 1,373 career points, while also setting school records for points in a season (692), made free throws (180), and points per game average (25.6).
"Lauren has demonstrated all of the qualities we value in our Rhodes athletics department while she was a student-athlete at Rhodes," said Cleanthes. "In addition to being an elite athlete. she was a selfless competitor and truly cared about others. She has proven herself as a team player on the court and in the professional world with her 'do whatever it takes' mindset."
In 2013, she earned USA and DIII All-American honors, was the SAA scoring champion, Defensive Player of the Year, first team all-conference, and named to the academic honor roll.
In 2012, playing in just 14 games, she was named third team all-conference and academic honor roll. Because of her spot on the WBCA All-America team, Sumski's jersey will hang in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn.
During her freshman season at Tennessee, she played in 19 games, averaging 2.6 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. She was named the ESPN Rivals Week Player of the Game in Tennessee's 65-57 win over Vanderbilt, playing 17 minutes in the second half, scoring 11 points with two rebounds and four steals. She played for the SEC regular season and tournament title teams and finished in the Elite 8 of the national tournament. She was named to the All-SEC Academic Team and All-SEC Freshman Academic Team.
Following graduation at Rhodes, Sumski was named the women's basketball assistant coach at Union University in August of 2014, spending three seasons with the Lady Bulldogs and working on her Master of Arts in Education in the process.
Sumski is a high school graduate of Lausanne Collegiate School in 2010. She played varsity basketball starting in eighth grade. She was named team captain as an eighth grader and maintained that title for her five years of high school basketball. She was named high school All-American as a senior. Sumski was ranked as the No. 28 prospect nationally by ESPN during her senior year. She posted school records in high school with 90 career double-doubles, seven triple-doubles, and one quadruple-double. She was a two-time Parade and USA All-American, Street and Smith All-American, EA Sports RISE Player of the Year four times, earned two state titles ('05, '08), two-time Miss Basketball, four-time first team all-state, four-time district and region champion, and four-time Commercial Appeal All-Metro.
Sumski was featured in the 2008 Sports Illustrated "Where Will They Be?" photo series. She was also displayed in a 2007 TIME Magazine article called "Courting Eighth-Graders" based on her commitment to the University of Tennessee at 14 years old. She averaged 15.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 5.8 steals per game during her high school career. She also played AAU basketball for the Memphis Elite and Tennessee Flight organizations. She won three state titles, two national titles, and named MVP of a national tournament.
Sumski is from Memphis, Tenn. and is the daughter of Dana Avant. She was married to her husband Chris Sumski March 31, 2015.
Rhodes sports nformation provided this report