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GREENSBORO - North Carolina A&T has a new head women's basketball coach. Today, Director of Athletics Earl Hilton announced Tarrell Robinson will head the program. A press conference will be held next week to introduce the new head coach.
In choosing Robinson, A&T didn't stray far from the formula that has made the women's program successful over the past seven seasons. Robinson replaces legendary coach Patricia Cage-Bibbs, who resigned last month to take the head women's basketball coaching position at her alma mater Grambling State University.
Robinson, 34, served as an assistant coach to Bibbs for four seasons. Prior to the 2008-09 season, he was promoted to associate head coach. The four-year working relationship resulted in the program's most prosperous era in terms of championships and player accolades.
After a 9-19 season in 2005-06, Robinson made his mark at A&T through rigorous recruiting. He assisted Bibbs in landing Fayetteville, N.C., native Ta'Wuana Cook. Cook went on to be the program's first MEAC Rookie of the Year, its second all-time leading scorer and its all-time leader in assists. He was also instrumental in signing two-time MEAC all-tournament performer Lamona Smalley and 2009 MEAC Player of the Year Brittanie Taylor-James. When Jaleesa Sams, who was ranked as high as No. 31 nationally by Scouts.com, signed to play at A&T in 2007, the women's basketball team had its most highly-touted recruit in history.
The recruiting efforts helped the Aggies compile a 51-15 record, two MEAC regular-season championships and a MEAC tournament championship from 2007-09. Three current players - guard Amber Calvin, forward JaQuayla Berry and center Nikia Gorham - were also a part of Robinson's recruiting efforts. Cook, Sams, Taylor-James and Berry are all 1,000-point career scorers and all-conference performers.
"I am humbled and honored to be named the new head women's basketball coach at North Carolina A&T State University," said Robinson, who is a 2001 graduate of the school. "I want to thank Chancellor Harold Martin, Earl Hilton and the Board of Trustees for giving me this opportunity. North Carolina A&T stands for excellence. Excellence is what we will strive for every day in the classroom as well as on the basketball court. I am excited to be back in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, one of most competitive leagues and fun atmospheres in the country."
Robinson has spent the previous three seasons at Virginia Commonwealth University as an assistant under then head coach Beth Cunningham. Prior to the start of the 2011-12 season, he was promoted to associate head coach after serving as the program's recruiting coordinator in 2010-11. During his first two seasons at VCU, the Rams earned WNIT bids, including a run to the third round in 2010. Robinson's impressive recruiting credentials were evident in Richmond, Va., as well. He helped Cunningham land 2011 second-team All-CAA performer Andrea Barbour, a one-time McDonalds High School All-American Semifinalist. In the process, he also signed four players ranked among the top 30 at their positions in the country.
The Rams' freshman class this season included 6-foot-3 center Aprill McRae, who was the 22nd ranked post player in the nation by ESPN.
Robinson played for the Aggies men's basketball team for four seasons, starting in 1997. He scored more than 900 points and grabbed more than 700 rebounds during his career. As a junior, he led the Aggies in rebounding.
"I have known Coach Robinson for a long time, dating back to his days as a player, and my days as A&T's compliance director," said Hilton. "I have always liked him as a person, and I've always respected how hard he works. I think he is just the person to replace a coaching legend. He worked under Coach Bibbs for a number of years, and therefore is knowledgeable on what it takes to win here. It is important to me that we take what has already been established as one of the best programs in the MEAC, and make it better. I think Coach Robinson can get us there."