A new era has begun in Charleston women’s basketball history.
On Tuesday afternoon, Candace Jackson was officially introduced at TD Arena as the seventh women’s basketball head coach in school history.
Formerly an assistant coach at Duke University, Jackson, 31, follows Natasha Adair, who departed for the same position at Georgetown University earlier this month.
If anyone knows their women’s basketball, it’s Jackson. She was a four-year player at Michigan State University from 2000-04, serving as the team captain and leading to Spartans to consecutive NCAA Tournaments in 2003 and 2004. She remained at Michigan State to serve as a graduate assistant coach in 2005, in which the Spartans advanced the the NCAA Championship.
In 2005, she was hired as an assistant at the University of Richmond, where she helped guide the team to a Women’s NIT berth in 2009.
She then spent two years as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Wake Forest University, earning a Women’s NIT berth in her first season.
Most recently, she was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Duke, where she signed two top 10 recruits and helped the Blue Devils reach back-to-back Elite Eight appearances in 2012 and 2013.
“Candice is smart, enthusiastic and skilled,” Charleston Director of Athletics Joe Hull said. “She is a proven recruiter, but she also knows how to teach the game. People will be drawn to her personality and I am confident the Charleston community will embrace her and continue to support our growing women’s basketball program.”
For Jackson, she is anxious to begin her first head coaching job.
“It’s exciting, it really is. It’s overwhelming, but I am taking it in stride. The anxiety will obviously go away, especially when I get my staff in place, we get some recruits on campus, and I get a little more of a feel with the girls. Once those things are in place, I’m sure all of the nerves will rush away,” she said.
The women’s squad is coming off two straight Women’s Basketball Invitational postseason berths, but Jackson says she feels no pressure for the team to perform, especially with her team’s returning talent.
“I wouldn’t say it is pressure, because the girls we have returning, they know what to do. They have that feeling and they have experienced that success. For me, there is no pressure, because these girls have it in them and it has shown these past two seasons,” she said.
In terms of style of play, Jackson says her style will differ just a bit from Coach Adair’s.
“It will kind of be an extension of what [Adair] has done, but I have a different style. You’ll see a few different half court sets, more pressing, and more aggressiveness on the defensive side,” she said.
And as for relocating, Jackson is thrilled to be calling Charleston home.
“The city speaks for itself. Everything it has to offer, the environment and this university. Everyone who I have met has been very, very friendly. The college itself is great. The city itself is great. It was something I couldn’t pass up,” she said.