Jon Harper, Jackie Stiles, Jennifer Sullivan make up Lady Bear coaching staff
Missouri State women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper filled her two remaining assistant coaching vacancies Thursday (April 18), with former MSU great Jackie Stiles and Jennifer Sullivan set to join her husband Jon Harper on the sideline this fall. Thursday’s hires leave only a director of basketball operations position open on the Lady Bear staff, which will be filled in the coming weeks.
“Each of these hires addresses a need,” Harper said of her assistants. “Jon brings a number of strengths that complement me. He’s a great communicator with players and has a knack for handling time and score situations in games.
“I felt great talking with Jennifer and Jackie. They are both young, qualified and want to be at Missouri State. Jennifer is very professional, has great recruiting ties to the region and comes highly recommended. Jackie is an up-and-coming coach and good recruiter whose place in this program’s history speaks for itself.”
All told, Missouri State’s staff combined to score 5,087 points at the Division I level with four All-America seasons, four Final Four appearances and three national championships during their playing careers.
Hires are subject to final approval by the Missouri State Board of Governors at its next meeting on May 16.
Jon Harper enters his first season at Missouri State and 13th coaching alongside his wife and head coach Kellie. He spent the last four seasons at North Carolina State, serving as one of the Wolfpack’s primary recruiters as well as coaching backcourt players and building the team’s schedule each season.
“Missouri State is a place with great history, facilities, community and administrative support, and I look forward to having the opportunity to build on that,” Harper said. “MSU is a big name in the women’s basketball world and certainly caught Kellie and my eyes when the position came open.”
While at NC State, Harper tutored four different players to a combination of all-Atlantic Coast Conference, all-ACC Freshman, all-tournament honors and a league Freshman of the Year award. Harper helped a team that was predicted to finish ninth in the ACC to a fifth-place finish and NCAA Tournament berth in 2009-10, as well as a pair of WNIT appearances his final two seasons.
Prior to NC State, Harper spent five years as an assistant coach at Western Carolina with Kellie and, before that, three seasons at Chattanooga, before heading to WCU with Kellie for the 2004-05 campaign.
During his time at Western Carolina, Harper worked with the backcourt players and helped produce five all-conference selections and the Southern Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. The Catamounts advanced to the postseason four of his five years on staff, including a pair of NCAA Tournament berths.
Harper got the coaching bug while serving as a manager at Auburn for three seasons from 1996-99, and he worked his way up to numerous administrative responsibilities with the team.
While he was with Auburn, the Lady Tigers compiled a 58-29 record that included the 1997 SEC Tournament Championship and a pair of NCAA Tournament berths in 1997 and 1999.
Harper joined the Auburn team as manager starting in 1996-97 and worked up to head manager in 1998-99. That season Harper was charged with increasing responsibilities that included overseeing the men’s team that scrimmaged the Lady Tigers. He eventually served an internship with the coaching staff.
Harper earned his bachelor’s degree in health promotion/sports management in March 1999 and in May of that year married the former Kellie Jolly. After receiving his degree, Harper taught physical education and was an assistant football coach at Lee-Scott Academy in Auburn. He then moved into private business before joining the basketball coaching ranks on the Chattanooga staff.
The all-time leading scorer in Division I women’s basketball, Jackie Stiles returns to her alma mater as an assistant coach for the 2013-14 season.
“Words can’t describe how excited I am to be coaching at my alma mater. It’s a dream come true because I love the school and community so much,” Stiles said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity Kellie has given me and look forward to learning from her. I could tell instantly from speaking with her that she is a great coach and person. I’m ready to put my heart and soul into making Missouri State the best women’s basketball program it can be.”
Stiles, who entered college coaching in 2012 as an assistant to former Lady Bear Charity (Shira) Elliott at Loyola Marymount, is the most decorated student-athlete in the history of Missouri State athletics.
As a senior, Stiles was named to the 2001 Kodak All-America First Team, the Associated Press All-America First Team and was named Women’s Basketball News Service Player of the Year after finishing her collegiate career with 3,393 points, a record that still stands. Her 1,062 points that season remain the only 1,000-point season in Division I women’s basketball history, and she also holds the No. 4 single game total with 56 in a March 2000 contest against Evansville.
She was also named the Honda Awards program Player of the Year and was the recipient of the coveted Honda Awards Broderick Cup, as well as the Wade Trophy as a senior.
A four-time Missouri Valley Conference first-team selection, Stiles earned MVC Player of the Year honors as a sophomore, junior and senior, and the award for the league’s most outstanding player now bears her name.
Stiles led the Lady Bears to the 2001 NCAA Final Four before becoming the first Missouri State player ever to be drafted by a WNBA franchise. The Portland Fire’s first-round (No. 4) draft pick, Stiles received 32 out of 60 possible votes from sportswriters and sportscasters in being named the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2001. A WNBA All-Star that season, she played for the Los Angeles Sparks in 2002 as well as professionally in Australia before retiring in 2006.
Among Stiles’ other awards include memberships in the Missouri State, MVC, Springfield Area and Missouri Sports halls of fame.
Since 2007, Stiles has owned and operated her own business, J. Stiles Total Training, which includes a variety of ventures including elite basketball training camps and clinics, personal training, motivational speaking appearances and sports broadcasting.
Jennifer Sullivan begins her first season at Missouri State after serving as an assistant coach for a pair of Sun Belt Conference schools the past four years. She will serve as recruiting coordinator on Harper’s staff.
“I’m very excited to be at a place with such great women’s basketball tradition,” Sullivan said upon her hire. “I followed Coach Harper’s career growing up and am thrilled to be working with her, Jon and Jackie.”
Sullivan spent the 2012-13 season as associate head coach for Garry Brodhead at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, serving as the team’s recruiting coordinator while handling guard development and scheduling.
Prior to her stint with the Ragin’ Cajuns, Sullivan was an assistant at Arkansas State in her hometown of Jonesboro for three seasons. Sullivan served as ASU’s recruiting coordinator in addition to duties with summer camps, academic monitoring and opponent scouting.
Sullivan’s strong southern ties date to her playing days at Memphis from 2001-05, where she was a three-year starter and helped the Tigers to the second round of the WNIT in 2004. She finished her Memphis career with 800 points, 310 rebounds and 99 steals, graduating in 2005 with a communications degree after being named team MVP her senior season.
Sullivan remained in Memphis upon graduation as an assistant for the Rhodes College women and followed that by spending the 2007-08 season on the Memphis sideline before joining Brodhead at McNeese State for the 2008-09 campaign.