MALIBU, Calif. --DeLisha Milton-Jones had an interest in coaching even while she was playing in the WNBA. Now she'll get her chance after taking over the women's basketball program at Pepperdine on Wednesday.
"It was a secret obsession of mine. I listened to everyone in my inner circle that I'd make a great coach one day. Everyone kept saying that," Milton-Jones said in a phone interview. "I didn't know if I could handle these kids, but now here I am enjoying it."
Milton-Jones joined the program as an assistant this past season after playing in the WNBA for 17 years. She said she learned she got the head-coaching job when athletic director Dr. Steve Potts called her into his office.
"We feel comfortable with you leading the charge as our new head coach," Milton-Jones recalled Potts saying. "I was like, what? He was like, 'We believe in you. We trust you to be the one to take us to the next level.'"
Milton-Jones said she sat there with her mouth agape and thanked Potts.
She replaces Ryan Weisenberg, who was let go earlier this month. The Waves were 7-23 this season and 28-94 during Weisenberg's four-year stint at the school.
While Milton-Jones doesn't have much coaching experience, she did have a storied career in the WNBA and playing overseas. She won two WNBA titles with the Los Angeles Sparks.
"DeLisha had an amazing collegiate, professional and Olympic basketball career," Potts said. "She is a natural-born leader and has an unparalleled passion for the game. DeLisha's commitment to Pepperdine's Christian mission, to the academic well-being of student-athletes and to building a championship-caliber women's basketball program make her a perfect fit for us."
Milton-Jones credits Weisenberg for giving her the opportunity to learn all about coaching when she first was hired in August.
"I was directly involved with the 2018 recruiting class. I had to hit the ground running," she said. "That was really, really valuable to me."
After getting the news, Milton-Jones walked into the gym on Wednesday and saw her new team all excited. Not just for her promotion, but because Seattle Storm rookie Breanna Stewart was in the gym working out.
"She introduced herself and said, 'Hey, Coach, heard the good news,'" Milton-Jones said. "We shared a really nice moment today."
Milton-Jones said she has received so many texts and social-media messages since the news broke that she would be spending the rest of the night returning them before she heads to Dallas for the Final Four.
"I truly am blessed and hope to invoke change in a positive way," she said.
She will be the seventh head coach in the program's history. Pepperdine has made four NCAA tournament appearances, and has had 13 postseason berths of any kind.
Pepperdine promotes DeLisha Milton-Jones to head coach