Duke Women's Basketball Announces Kara Lawson as New Coach


Duke officially announced the hiring of Kara Lawson as the fifth head women’s basketball coach in program history and the first African-American to head the program.

“I am delighted to welcome Kara Lawson to Duke as our next women’s basketball coach,” Duke President Vincent E. Price said in a statement from the school. “Kara has proven herself as a skilled coach and a committed mentor, whose passion for education is demonstrated by her service on her alma mater’s board of trustees. I am thrilled that she will be bringing these talents to Duke, and I know that she will support the continued success of our women’s basketball student-athletes both on the court and off.”

Lawson, a 2003 Tennessee graduate, spent last season as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics. Lawson was the Celtics first female coach in the franchise’s 73-year history.

“A highly-seasoned champion at multiple levels within the basketball landscape, Kara Lawson is the ideal fit for Duke University,” A.D. Kevin White said. “Throughout the process, it became abundantly clear that her authenticity, passion, contemporary vision and unwavering commitment to the student-athlete experience align seamlessly with the values of the institution. With her high degree of emotional intelligence, Kara’s astute ability to connect with future, current and former student-athletes, as well as the passionate and dedicated supporters of Duke women’s basketball, will have an immediate and profound impact on the entire program.”

Lawson has assisted efforts for USA Basketball’s 3x3 teams in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games. She has helped USA Basketball 3x3 teams to six gold medals since 2017. With Lawson on the sideline, the USA U18 women have won three straight titles (2017 & 2019 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cups and 2018 Youth Olympic Games) while the U18 men captured gold at the 2019 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup. Additionally, Lawson helped guide the USA 3x3 men’s and women’s teams to first place finishes at the 2019 Pan American Games.

“Well, it is a dream come true for me,” said Lawson. “I have wanted to be a coach since I was a kid. To have an opportunity to lead a group of young women at a prestigious university like Duke – I have run out of words; it is unbelievable and very exciting. I am thankful for the path that led me here and thankful for the belief of President Price, Kevin White, (Duke Senior Deputy Director of Athletics/Administration) Nina King, Coach (Mike) Krzyzewski, Coach (David) Cutcliffe and everyone surrounding the program. Everybody I spoke with and had a chance to interact with, I immediately felt a great connection. It wasn’t a decision based on emotion, but there was a lot of emotion involved in it because of how excited I am and how ready I am to get started and to work with the players.”

The Kara Lawson File

Hometown: Alexandria, Va.

Education: Tennessee, 2003 (Finance)

High School: West Springfield High School

Husband: Damien Barling

Birthday: February 14, 1981

Coaching Experience:

2020-present: Duke University (Head Coach)

2019-20: Boston Celtics (Assistant Coach)

2017-present: USA Basketball 3-on-3 Team (Head Coach)

USA Basketball Highlights:

Preparing USA Basketball 3-on-3 Team for 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Helped lead 3x3 teams to six gold medals since 2017

Led U18 3x3 teams to three straight titles

Led 3x3 men’s and women’s teams to gold medal at 2019 Pan American Games

2009 National Team Training Camp

2008 National Team (Gold Medal)

2007 FIBA Americas Championship Team (Gold Medal)

2006 National Team Spring Training Team

2001 World University Games (Gold Medal)

1998 World Youth Games Team (Bronze Medal)

WNBA Highlights:

Surpassed 3,000 points, 800 rebounds and 700 assists over her 13-year career

Led nine of her teams to the playoffs out of 13 seasons

2009 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award winner

2007 WNBA All-Star

Led Sacramento Monarchs to WNBA Title in 2005

Drafted in the 2003 Draft, No. 5 overall, by the Detroit Shock

2003 WNBA Select Team that played in FIBA World Cup (2)

Tennessee Highlights:

Guided Tennessee to a 126-17 overall and 54-2 SEC record

Led Lady Vols to four straight SEC Tournament and regular season titles

Made 2000, 2002 and 2003 NCAA Final Four appearances

Ranks sixth all-time in scoring (1,950)

Four-time All-SEC First Team (2000-03)

Two-time Naismith Player of the Year finalist (2002-03)

Two-time U.S. Basketball Writers of America All-America honoree (2002-03)

2003 Kodak All-America

2003 Associated Press Second Team All-America

2003 Arthur Ashe Jr. Female Student-Athlete of the Year

2003 CoSIDA/Verizon First Team Academic All-America selection

2002 Associated Press Third Team All-America

2001 Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America

2001 CoSIDA/Verizon Academic All-District honoree

2000 Women’s Basketball Journal Freshman All-America and SEC All-Freshman Team