Rhyne Howard, WNBA, Atlanta Dream, coach, Florida, Gators

Florida Women’s Basketball Team Hires Atlanta Dream’s Rhyne Howard as Assistant Coach and Director of Player Personnel

A second-year WNBA player has recently joined the ranks of a college coaching staff during the league’s offseason.

According to the Florida women’s basketball team, Atlanta Dream player Rhyne Howard will join the Gators’ coaching staff as an assistant coach and director of player personnel. Howard has familial ties to Florida as her mother, Rhvonja (R.J.) Avery played for the university from 1987-91.

“When you really think about it, everything is full circle. My mom was a Gator herself, and I have been on this campus multiple times, but to actually be able to wear the orange and blue, I know it’s making her proud, I know it’s making everyone who thought I was originally going to be a Florida Gator proud,” Howard said in a written statement. “I always knew at some point that I would have the connection back with this school and just to be here and to be loved and to feel how much of a family it is already just confirmed all that.”

Howard is barely out of college herself, having attended the University of Kentucky and graduated in 2022. She became the first and only Kentucky player in program history to be drafted first overall by a WNBA team.

While at Kentucky, she became the basketball program’s top three-point shooter of all time and earned the SEC (Southeastern Conference) Player of the Year two times (2020 and 2021). She was also selected as the SEC Tournament MVP in 2022 and made the All-SEC First Team in all four of her years (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022).

Kelly Rae Finley, head coach of the Florida Gators, said, “It has always been important to me that we surround our student-athletes with people who can help equip them with the skills necessary to succeed as professionals on and off the court … Rhyne is humble, competitive, thoughtful, and driven … She is living many of our student-athletes dreams. Her knowledge of the game, combined with her ability to teach and connect with them on and off the court, will elevate our program.”

She had a successful second year in the WNBA. Although the Dream lost in the first round of the playoffs, she averaged 17.5 a game.

Last year, she was the first rookie in league history to record four blocks and four three-pointers in their debut. As an All-Star player, she also won the WNBA Kia Rookie of the Year and Associated Press Rookie of the Year in her first year in the league.