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Sunday July 3rd, 2022 1:21PM

UCF's Abrahamson-Henderson hired as Georgia's new coach

By The Associated Press
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ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia hired Central Florida's Katie Abrahamson-Henderson on Saturday, making her just the third full-time head coach in the history of the women's basketball team.

Abrahamson-Henderson, who played two seasons at Georgia in the 1980s, was hired just three days after Joni Taylor left for the coaching job at Texas A&M.

Abrahamson-Henderson has been a head coach for 17 seasons, also working at Albany and Missouri State. This past season, the 55-year-led UCF to a school record for wins with a 26-4 mark as the Knights captured both the regular-season and tournaments championships in the American Athletic Conference.

UCF's season ended with a 52-47 loss to No. 2 seed UConn in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Now Abrahamson-Henderson is headed to Georgia, which also was eliminated in the second round of the NCAAs.

“This is a dream come true," she said in a statement released by the school. “I am thrilled to return to Georgia as the head coach at one of the premier women’s basketball programs in the country.”

Georgia became a national powerhouse under longtime coach Andy Landers, who guided the Lady Bulldogs to 31 NCAA appearances over his 36-year career, including five Final Fours and two runs to the national championship game. They lost both times, leaving the only blemish on Landers’ record.

She landed her first head coaching job in 2015 after the retirement of Andy Landers, who built Georgia into a national powerhouse over a 36-year career.

The Lady Bulldogs made 31 NCAA appearances under Landers, including five Final Fours and two runs to the national championship game. They lost both times, leaving the only blemish on Landers’ record.

Abrahamson-Henderson, an Iowa native, was a highly sought recruit who signed with Georgia in 1986, helping the Lady Bulldogs capture the Southeastern Conference title as a freshman.

She left Georgia after two seasons to return to her home state, transferring to Iowa to play for coach C. Vivian Stringer. Abrahamson-Henderson was part of two Big Ten championships teams with the Hawkeyes.

Taylor replaced Landers in 2015 and had some promising seasons, including four NCAA appearances. But the Lady Bulldogs never advanced past the second round and failed to return to the prominence they had at the height of Landers' career.

That is the goal for Abrahamson-Henderson.

“When I signed a national letter of intent with Coach Landers in 1985, this program was in the middle of a remarkable and unprecedented run of competing for SEC and national championships," she said.

After interviewing with athletic director Josh Brooks and senior deputy athletic director Darrice Griffin, the new coach is ready to get back to those levels.

“Our vision and belief that Georgia will compete for championships and postseason success lined up perfectly,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. "I am so ready to get started.”

She said her success at UCF prepared her to take Georgia to even higher levels.

“What we did at UCF was the most historic season in school history,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “It is not easy to leave a place like UCF, and I want all our administrators, players, alumni, fans and supporters to know you will always hold a special place in our hearts.”

Abrahamson-Henderson has a career record of 372-157 record, averaging 22 victories a season. Her teams have also won seven conference regular-season titles, nine league tournament crowns, 11 NCAA Tournament berths and 14 postseason bids overall.

She's had only one losing season in her career.

“Throughout this process, one name kept coming up, and that was Coach Abe,'" Brooks said. “Her resume and history of success at every level is impressive.

“Our goal was to find a proven coach who has had sustained success both in competing for conference titles and in the NCAA tournament,” he added. "Katie is the entire package.”

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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