Ashleen Bracey named UIC women’s basketball head coach

Ashleen Bracey
Ashleen Bracey

No stranger to the Windy City and the Missouri Valley Conference, Ashleen Bracey has been named head women’s basketball coach for the UIC Flames, subject to approval by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees.

A native of nearby Oak Park and former standout student-athlete at Illinois State University, Bracey arrives at UIC after spending the past six seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Missouri, a member of the Southeastern Conference. During her tenure at Mizzou, working alongside head coach Robin Pingeton, Bracey was instrumental in helping the Tigers reach three NCAA Tournaments and make two WNIT appearances.

“We are excited to welcome Coach Bracey home to lead Flames women’s basketball,” UIC Director of Athletics Michael Lipitz said. “She is an elite recruiter and skilled tactician who knows Chicago and the Missouri Valley Conference well. Ashleen exudes passion, exhibits a relentless work ethic, and cares deeply for her players, which will well serve our women’s basketball student-athletes and program.”

Bracey, a veteran coach who grew up only 15 minutes west of UIC’s campus, expressed excitement for the future of Flames women’s basketball.

“I am truly honored and humbled to be named the head women’s basketball coach at UIC,” Bracey said. “I am so thankful for such an amazing opportunity to come home and lead these talented young women at a world-class institution. Michael Lipitz has a vision for UIC Athletics and Flames women’s basketball that I believe in. We can confidently create a winning culture here and build a championship-caliber program that the City of Chicago will be incredibly proud of.

“I am grateful to Chancellor Michael Amiridis, Michael, Farrah Manthei, and the rest of the administration for putting their trust in me to lead the Flames. I also would like to thank my family, friends and mentors like my college coach and former boss Robin Pingeton who have helped shape the woman and coach I am today and led me to this opportunity here at UIC.”

Bracey played a pivotal role in Missouri’s recruiting efforts during her time in Columbia. Of note, she led efforts to sign the nation’s 12th-ranked recruiting class in 2019, regarded as the best in program history. The group included Aijha Blackwell, the top prospect in the state of Missouri and No. 9 in the country, as ranked by espnW.

The Flames new head coach mentored seven All-SEC players and three All-SEC Freshman Team standouts while at Mizzou. In addition to Blackwell, All-Conference honorees coached by Bracey also include three-time All-SEC First Team selection Sophie Cunningham, the 13th overall pick in the 2019 WNBA draft by the Phoenix Mercury.

Mizzou won at least 20 games three times in Bracey’s six seasons, including 24 victories in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns. The Tigers won 18 games in 2021-22, including an overtime thriller against No. 1 South Carolina and a road win at No. 15 Florida to close out the regular season. Bracey was responsible for developing and administering the game plan and scouting reports for both MU triumphs.

The 33-year-old Bracey cut her coaching teeth at several stops prior to arriving at Mizzou. From 2012-15, she served as the recruiting coordinator and assistant coach at UAB. She also spent time on staff at Ball State University and Eureka College.

As a student-athlete, Bracey starred on the hardwood at Illinois State from 2006-10. A three-year starter for Pingeton and the Redbirds, she was a key contributor on three Missouri Valley Conference championship squads. During her time at ISU, Bracey and her teammates reached the postseason each year, qualifying for the 2008 NCAA Tournament and making three appearances in the WNIT, reaching the semifinals in 2009 and 2010.

As a senior in 2009-10, Bracey served as team captain and earned All-MVC First Team honors, as well as a spot on the conference’s All-Defensive Team. She was selected MVC Player of the Week four times during that campaign and earned recognition on the 2009-10 MVC Scholar-Athlete Team.

She tallied 1,194 points as a Redbird and shot over 50% from the floor for her career. Her 765 career rebounds tie her for fifth-most in program history. Bracey tallied 21 double-doubles in her Redbird career.

Upon graduating from Illinois State in 2010 with a degree in Criminal Justice Sciences, Bracey played professional basketball in Greece for one year prior to transitioning to the sideline as a coach.

Bracey attended Oak Park-River Forest High School, where she was a three-time All-West Suburban Conference honoree for the Huskies. Her brothers also played college basketball, Bryan (Oregon) and Chris (West Texas A&M) and went on to professional careers in Europe.

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