The first thing you notice about Jackie Nared and Tamisha Augustin is how quickly they connect with people.
Nared shared that she had a home inspection on Thursday afternoon on a house she is ready to buy in Tucson.
“I’ve moved a lot in the last couple of years and I’m probably a little too used to it. Arizona is somewhere I want to be for a while. I am hoping to settle and stay put here with Adia (Barnes).”
Augustin shared how she ruptured her Achilles tendon in December 2016 when she was an assistant coach at Minnesota.
“It happened because I thought I still had the juice in practice,” Augustin said. “We had 10 minutes left to practice at Ohio State and I got an outlet (pass), rip, took a dribble, it popped. I turned around and thought one of the girls had hit me in the back of the leg with the ball. I was like, ‘Who kicked me in the leg?’ And everybody knew I ruptured my Achilles. ... Shocking to me. I was like, ‘I am too old for this, why?’ … I’m back out playing and running around, so it’s totally fine.”
A few minutes after meeting each of them, you feel like you’ve known them your entire life. And that’s a perfect fit for Barnes’ program.
“They are good relationship people and I like that,” Barnes said. “It’s an important part of our success — to embrace the community — and I needed people who could do that. They have good people skills and that’s very important.”
Those skills have been tested fairly quickly. In the first few weeks, the new coaches have started offseason practice, had official visits and have been on the phone courting prospects. This weekend, they hit the road to evaluate recruits. Three cities in three days.
In a word, it’s been crazy.
Nared is still living out of a bag and while Augustin’s car was delivered Thursday morning, her furniture doesn’t arrive until later this week.
That’s life as an assistant coach, and both have experienced this sprint before.
Nared went from playing college hoops at Saint Mary’s to working on Washington coach Mike Neighbors’ staff as the director of player development for two seasons, while Barnes was a UW assistant. Nared played professionally in Switzerland and Belgium for two seasons and worked at Oregon and Washington State.
Barnes said that Nared has “a great basketball mind and a good eye for the game.”
Nared comes from a basketball family. Her dad, Greg, played at Maryland, coached at UW and is now in the Dallas Mavericks’ front office. Her sister, Jamie, is in her second season in the WNBA with the Las Vegas Aces and played college ball at Tennessee.
The Nared sisters learned long ago not to play against each other since they’d end up fighting out of competitive nature. But that doesn’t stop them from spending time together in the gym.
“We’re gym rats; we love the game,” said Nared. “My dad and Jamie visited me at Washington State and I had broken my right hand — my shooting hand — and we were still in the gym. I was shooting with my left hand.
“We rebound for Jamie and when we finish up we play H-O-R-S-E, and dad and I take shots on our own trying to be like we are really shooters.”
Nared has another younger sister, Eboni, 12, nicknamed ‘Puny,’ who also plays basketball.
Outside of her family, Nared looks to Barnes and Oregon’s Kelly Graves as her mentors.
“I’ve had great people in my corner who have taught and helped me grow as a person and a coach. I am very blessed,” said Nared. “Kelly showed me that being a good person means more than anything. People can feel your energy if you are a good person.
“Adia is always my go-to when I seek advice. Adia has a great aura about her. She is relatable and played the game. She’s done what a lot of people want to do and strive for, and she’s still young. I look up to her. She has accomplished a lot in such a short period of time. She’s an easy person to learn from. ... She is an awesome role model for these young women. Whatever Adia puts her mind to, she’s going to do. It shows in her success in everything she’s done.”
Augustin always thought she was going to be a dentist; she calls herself a science nerd. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and with a fifth year of playing basketball, due to an injury, she earned a masters in microbiology at Alabama A&M. But then basketball took her overseas and when her career ended, she turned to coaching.
Her stops included Marshall, VCU, UCF, Minnesota and Cincinnati. Augustin’s list of mentors include Boo Williams, Dawn Staley, Jamelle Elliot, and Joy Williams.
“Each team I coached has been so different and from when I started to now — just in how these young adults process and how you have to teach them,” said Augustin. “Some are oral learners and some are visual, but now mental health awareness is a big thing. And a lot of young adults struggle with adversity.
“What used to be so easy to us is the biggest thing to them. I think from each of them, learning how to actually relate to players and how to address adversity and get coping skills. To get the best out of the players. I think each team has brought me something different: leadership, discipline and having great values in the community.”
Cincinnati fired its entire coaching staff after a 19-13 season in 2017-18. It was a shock to everyone after a winning season.
“We had no clue — most unheard of thing, but it was a blessing in disguise,” said Augustin. “It gave me an opportunity — a good time to take a break and visit what is important, which is family. ... It gave me a chance to travel at odd times of the year that I never do in January and December. I actually spent Christmas and Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in 15 years. It was refreshing. And now I am fired up. I am fired up. I am fired up.”
Augustin really wasn’t away during her year away from coaching. She started a company — Goalden Solutions Inc. — and ran skill development clinics for boys and girls and educated their parents on the recruitment process.
“I like that I am giving her an opportunity. She’s hungry to get back to it,” said Barnes. “She is a good coach and a good recruiter. Since being on board she is so detailed. I love it. It’s the little things that are important to me. I knew she was aligned with me.”
She is aligned with Barnes in many ways including work ethic, community and passion.
Augustin calls herself a “blue collar, hard worker.” She wants the fans to know that she “is passionate about this university and the opportunities that are ahead for us and, more importantly, our student-athletes. I want them to be the best people they can be when they leave here.”
“Ultimately you want your community to support your program. And you do that by getting out there yourself showing, ‘Hey, I support you guys and we want you guys to come and support us.’
“Adia has done a great job with that. It helps so much that she played here. Even when we talk about prospects, she’s done it. She’s done it here. And now she’s re-writing that story by getting other young adults and giving them an opportunity to do the same. So I’m very big on that.”
Nared and Augustin both said ‘yes’ to joining Barnes’ program right away.
“Once I got to campus it was a no-brainer — coming here was easy,” said Nared. “I love Adia and it’s nice working with someone you know and trust. So that was huge. Basketball-wise they just won the WNIT championship and have the same group coming back. We are going to continue to grow and rise. And the girls are phenomenal.”
Added Augustin: “What attracted me here was Adia. She did some really exciting things this year. I expected her to do those things because I know the drive that she has. It’s important for me that when I decided to transition to Arizona that you want to work for somebody who matches your passion and your goals and your values. ... It didn’t take long for me to decide, because we knew each other. It was an exciting time.”
UA standout LaBrittney Jones, who won the Patrick Baumann Swiss Cup championship with Switzerland’s BC Winterthur, took second place in the Swiss SBL. Her team fell to the same opponent, Elfic, that it beat to capture the Swiss Cup. Eurobasket.com named Jones All-Swiss SBL first team as forward of the year.
The Adia Barnes Basketball Academy at McKale Center helps girls, grades 2-12, develop skills and get tips from Barnes, her staff and players from the WNIT championship team. The day camp is June 3-6 for grades 2-8. Team camp is June 8-9. The elite camp for girls in grades 9-12 is Aug. 3. For more information, contact Bri Felix at 520-621-4014, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.