LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky women’s basketball assistant coach Matt Insell has resigned in order to accept the head coaching position at Ole Miss, Coach Matthew Mitchell announced Thursday.
In his five seasons as an assistant coach at UK, Insell has been a key component in recruiting and player development.
He has helped Kentucky ink four-consecutive top-15 recruiting classes and seven high school McDonald's All-Americans in current players Bria Goss (Indianapolis), Jennifer O'Neill (Bronx, N.Y.), DeNesha Stallworth (Richmond, Calif), Janee Thompson (Chicago), and Samarie Walker (West Carrollton, Ohio), along with 2013 signees Linnae Harper (Chicago) and Makayla Epps (Lebanon, Ky.)
Insell, 30, also has helped lead UK to several firsts as the Wildcats have charted four-straight 25-win seasons, including a school-record 29 wins this season, and four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history. UK also has ranked in the top 25 of both national polls for 67 consecutive weeks, including finishing at No. 7 this season, the highest in school history.
“We will forever grateful to Coach Insell’s contribution to our program,” Mitchell said. “We have seen significant growth in Kentucky women’s basketball since he’s been here and he’s been a huge part of our success. We are sad to see him go but that doesn’t compare to the joy we have for him reaching his dream of being a head coach. Not only has he been a fantastic coach for Kentucky he has become a member of our family, and Jenna and I are thankful for the impact he’s had on our lives. Mississippi is extremely fortunate to hire someone of Matt’s talent and tremendous work ethic.”
In 2011-12, Insell helped lead UK Hoops to one of its most successful seasons. The Wildcats went 28-7 overall, 13-3 in Southeastern Conference play and won the SEC regular-season championship, UK’s first since 1982. Not only did Insell help guide the Wildcats to an Elite Eight appearance for the second time in three years, he also developed All-America guard A'dia Mathies, the SEC Player of the Year; Goss, the SEC Freshman of the Year; and Keyla Snowden, the SEC Co-6th Woman of the Year. Mathies repeated as SEC Player of the Year during the current campaign.
In 2009-10, Insell helped guide UK to a then-program-best 28-8 record, including an 11-5 mark in the SEC. Despite low expectations from outside observers, Kentucky went from being picked to finish 11th in the SEC to an NCAA Elite Eight team. The Cats defeated five nationally-ranked opponents, including a historic win over LSU in Baton Rouge, La., and an exciting upset over top-seeded and fourth-ranked Nebraska in the Sweet 16.
With Insell’s help, Mathies received UK’s first SEC Freshman of the Year honor and was named the Cats’ first freshman All-American since Valerie Still in 1980. Mathies also was named to the SEC All-Tournament team along with teammate Victoria Dunlap, marking UK’s first honorees to that team since 1992. Mathies was again impressive in her sophomore season, earning All-SEC Second Team honors. Freshman guard Bernisha Pinkett also received conference honors as she was named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
Insell will finish the season with the Wildcats as they travel to Bridgeport, Conn., for the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals vs. Delaware on Saturday, March 30. Game time is noon ET on ESPN.
Prior to Kentucky, Insell was the Director of Basketball Operations at Louisiana Tech under Coach Chris Long. Before that, he was considered one of the top AAU coaches in the country, coaching the Tennessee Flight, a Nike Elite Travel Program, for three years.
Insell made a national name for himself after coaching 41 of his former AAU players to play Division I basketball, including Wildcats Victoria Dunlap and Crystal Riley. He also coached the Shelbyville Sports Shop 15-Under team to the AAU National Championship title in 2004.
Insell earned valuable basketball experience while attending the University of Tennessee from 2001-2005. He worked closely with both the men’s and women’s basketball programs, serving as a student assistant/video coordinator under former men’s head coach Buzz Peterson and as an instructor at Pat Summitt’s summer basketball camps. The Shelbyville, Tenn., native transferred to Middle Tennessee State during the 2005-06 season where his father, Rick Insell, is the head women’s basketball coach. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in political science from MTSU in 2007.