New Georgia State women’s basketball head coach Gene Hill filled out his coaching staff with a trio of hires.
While some of the faces are new, one is very familiar.
Katie Pate returns to Georgia State after a four-year absence to be an Assistant Coach. She will be joined by A. G. Hall and Tiffany Morton.
Pate was an Assistant for the Panthers for one season, 2014. She left to become head coach of Lenoir-Rhyne, a Division II school in Hickory, NC. Her term with the Bears lasted three seasons, and she left with a record of 41-43. Last year she was an Assistant with the Marshall Thundering Herd. Ironically, Cameron Sealey replaced Pate as Head Coach of Lenoir-Rhyne. Sealey was on Georgia State’s staff back in 2015-16.
In an e-mail interview, I asked Coach Pate if she stayed current with developments at Georgia State during her time away. “One of the most special parts of our industry are the relationships forged with players and coaches,” she answered. “My four-month stint with the Panthers, albeit brief, was no different. I kept my eyes on a few players from afar and was excited for their successes on and off the court.”
Her coaching style has evolved in her time away. “Adding three more years as a Head Coach helped bring greater depth to my management and leadership skills,” she replied. “My experience at Marshall University certainly provided the opportunity to entrench myself in the high mid-major landscape.”
She is also anxious to work with Coach Hill. “(He) brings a passion and a standard of excellence that is not negotiable. His experience in building winning cultures is so statistically proven it cannot be argued. The standard is the standard for him, and his ability to recruit players that share that vision is not only championship-caliber in all facets but is something the community will rally around and embrace.”
Coach Hall also has a head coaching stint in his background. He was helmed Winston Salem State University from 2012-16. In those four years, the Rams compiled a mark of 53-58. His most recent stop was for one season at North Carolina Central in Raleigh. Prior to Winston Salem, he spent ten years as an Assistant at Providence, Bethune-Cookman, and Clemson.
Through e-mail, I asked Coach Hall why he accepted the position when Coach Hill offered. “I have a professional and personal respect for Gene Hill,” came the reply. “He has a vision and a plan to create a winning culture here. I am here (to contribute) to that. The growth of Georgia State University and the opportunities in the City of Atlanta were important positives for my family.”
Tiffany Morton is the final component of the triumvirate. She also takes on the duties of Recruiting Coordinator for the Panthers. For the last four campaigns, Morton had the same title with the Mercer Bears, who had an exceptional 2017-18 season. They went 30-3, had a 27-game winning streak, and not only went undefeated in the Southern Conference, but also did not lose a game outside of the state of Georgia.
Mercer took the automatic bid of the Southern Conference into the NCAA Tournament. Despite that 30-3 record, the committee gave the Bears a thirteen seed. They were placed in the Athens Regional, and Georgia won in a tightly-contested matchup, 68-63. That was the second time that Mercer and the Bulldogs tangled in the same season. Back in November, Georgia came to Macon and dispatched the Bears by a tally of 72-54. For Mercer to close the gap and do it at Stegeman Coliseum was an impressive achievement.
Georgia State hopes to replicate Mercer’s success, and Morton has access to the blueprint. Hill hopes to draw upon that knowledge. Through e-mail, she said, “I look forward to bringing a championship mentality and a one-hundred-percent effort on and off the court. It’s important to lead by example and truly get to know our players. Georgia State is a special place to be.”
Her duties will be slightly different than Pate’s and Hall’s since recruiting will be factored in. When I spoke to Coach Hill after his appointment to lead Georgia State’s women’s team, he emphasized that getting quality players from the state to ‘stay at home’ will be a crucial ingredient to his formula for success.
I asked Coach Morton what type of players Coach Hill is searching for when they hit the recruiting trail. “Coach Hill is looking for not only great players and recruits that can shoot/score the ball, but he is also look for great people.”
The trio were announced last week. Expect them to use the Memorial Day holiday to get acclimated to Decatur Street. Once that is accomplished, look for them to start molding an experienced Panther squad as the start of the 2018-19 season gets closer and closer. The roster features eight seniors, now-eligible transfers, and two straight Sun Belt Freshmen of the Year in Madison Newby and Jada Lewis. Lewis was hurt almost all of last year. She hopes to be completely healthy heading into Hill’s first year as Georgia State’s head coach.

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