Graduation day for the hoopsters
AUSTIN, Texas -- Four Texas women's basketball seniors - 6-2 forward Jody Bell (Chestermere, Alberta, Canada/Chestermere HS), 6-2 guard Kala Bowers (Woodward, Okla./Woodward HS), 6-2 forward Annissa Hastings (San Antonio, Texas/Sam Houston HS) and 6-2 Mercedes Williams (Houston, Texas/Westfield HS) - all received their diplomas Friday afternoon in the College of Education commencement exercises.
The School of Education graduation took place in Gregory Gymnasium in front of thousands of family members and friends.
During her outstanding tenure as Longhorns women's basketball coach, Jody Conradt has seen a 99 percent graduation rate of her players. Having just completed her 30th year at Texas, multi-Hall of Famer Conradt's blueprint for UT's basketball program has emphasized both achievement achievement and on-court success (752 victories and three NCAA Final Four, five Elite Eight and 11 Sweet 16 appearances while at Texas; 869 career wins overall in her 36 years as collegiate coach).
Here are the the future plans of these four Longhorn basketball graduates:
Jody Bell (education/sport management major) will graduate this summer after completing an internship with a local Nike affiliate in timing and apparel/equipment marketing;
Kala Bowers (education/kinesiology major) plans to teach and coach at the high school level this fall after getting married this July to Don Gaines (Texas `04);
Annissa Hastings (education and teaching certification) has just returned from a free agent tryout with the WNBA's Indiana Fever; although waived from the Fever, her future plans are to either play overseas in Europe this fall or return to her hometown of San Antonio to teach and coach at the high school level;
Mercedes Williams (education/kinesiology major) will continue her education by pursuing a degree in nursing; she plans to attend Austin Community College in the fall to study nursing.
The other two seniors on UT's 2004-05 basketball team - 6-2 forward Heather Schreiber (Windthorst, Texas/Windthorst HS) and 5-6 guard Jamie Carey (Thornton, Colo./Horizon HS) - will graduate later.
Carey, a two-time ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-American, is working on her second degree from UT. She received her undergraduate degree in sociology/social work in December of 2003. Since January of 2004, she has been enrolled in UT's master's program in sport management. Currently, Carey has made the roster of the WNBA's Connecticut Sun, and will be playing for the Sun when the WNBA season commences next week.
Schreiber, an education major and Academic All-Big 12 standout, will graduate in December and will attend graduation ceremonies at commencement exercises at that time.
Over the last four years for head coach Jody Conradt's squad (2001-02 through 2004-05), Bell, Bowers, Hastings and Williams helped the Longhorns to an overall record of 103-30, a 77.5 winning percentage. Along the way, Texas Basketball captured national attention and acclaim with:
its run to the 2003 NCAA Final Four semifinals in Atlanta;
with NCAA Sweet 16 showings in 2002 and 2005;
with the nation's No. 1 national ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 in the first weeks of February of 2003;
with top 10 national rankings to end the 2003 and 2004 campaigns, claiming No. 3 USA Today/ESPN Top 25 honors in 2003 and No. 4 honors in the final 2004 AP Poll;
and with earning the first two Big 12 Conference regular season championships (2003 and 2004) and the first Big 12 Tournament title (2003) in the program's history.