Shelley Patterson spent the last decade as an assistant in Minnesota, the last three with debuting New York Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins.
“I could not be more thrilled to join the New York Liberty organization,” said Patterson in a team statement. “I look forward to working alongside Walt Hopkins and a Liberty team that has great potential and a promising future.”
Patterson brings over three decades of basketball coaching experience with her to New York. She most recently spent the last decade as an assistant coach with the Minnesota Lynx. The Washington State alumna helped guide the team to four victories in the WNBA Finals (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017).
The most recent three years of that tenure were spent alongside Hopkins. Much like Patterson, Hopkins was a Lynx assistant under Cheryl Reeve.
“I am overjoyed to welcome Shelley to New York as a part of the Liberty coaching staff,” said Hopkins in the same team statement. “The value of her steady demeanor, her ability to create and maintain genuine relationships, and her nearly unparalleled experience and knowledge cannot possibly be overstated.”
Patterson has also been an assistant with the WNBA franchises in Indiana, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Seattle. She began her WNBA journey with a one-year stint with the champion Houston Comets in 1999. A single year as a head coach came during the 2005 National Women’s Basketball League season with the Chicago Blaze.
After four years on the court in Pullman (1980-84), Patterson has become renowned for her scouting prowess. She served as a recruiting coordinator at Indiana State University prior to her WNBA entry and also worked at schools like Ohio, Arizona, Wake Forest, and Dayton.
The current Liberty roster features several young veterans in Patterson’s former station at guard. Kia Nurse was invited to the WNBA All-Star Game in her second season, while Rebecca Allen and Bria Hartley each set new career-highs in scoring. Last year also saw the debuts of rookies Asia Durr (the second overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft) and French import Marine Johannes.
Hartley and Johannes are slated to be free agents. Many also expect the Liberty to use the top overall pick in April’s upcoming draft to take Sabrina Ionescu. The Oregon guard has set numerous NCAA records during her time in Eugene. Among them is a massive lead in triple-doubles for both men and women (22 as of Tuesday night).
In their final Minnesota collaboration, Hopkins and Patterson helped guide sixth-overall pick Napheesa Collier to Rookie of the Year honors. Collier was also named to her first career All-Star roster.
“After working alongside her for three seasons, I can say with absolute certainty that we are not only getting a fantastic coach, but also an exceptional human being who exemplifies many of the qualities that are necessary to build a sustainable, championship-level culture,” Hopkins said. “We are extremely fortunate to have her with us.”
The Liberty open their 2020 season on May 16 against the Connecticut Sun.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490.