|Position:||Assistant Coach and Recruiting Coordinator|
Former WNBA and two-time All-Big East guard Desma Thomas Bateast joined the USF women’s basketball staff in July of 2013 and is in her fourth season serving as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
USF is Thomas Bateast’s fifth stop in her coaching career, as the former WNBA guard has spent time as head coach at St. Thomas and an assistant at FIU, Rhode Island and Dillard University prior to joining USF. The Bulls have utilized Thomas Bateast’s ability to evaluate and recruit talent, as well as her on-court instruction and strong knowledge of the game as they have reached back-to-back NCAA Tournaments and the 2014 WNIT Final Four during her tenure.
Thomas Bateast has played an integral role coaching the guards, overseeing the development of the Bulls highest WNBA draftee Courtney Williams. Williams finished the season with a USF record 763 points in her season and was named a WBCA All-American. Fellow graduate Shalethia Stringfield also earned postseason accolades under Thomas Bateast’s tutelage. Stringifeld was named the league’s Sixth Player of the Year after steadily growing to a vital piece to the team’s offense in her final season.
She helped guide the Bulls to a school-record 27 wins and second place finish in the American Athletic Conference in 2014-15, while guard Courtney Williams led the conference in scoring (20.3 ppg) and set a USF season record with 710 points. Williams earned her second first-team all-conference honor and was named an Honorable Mention All-American.
In Thomas Bateast’s first season with USF, the Bulls posted their lowest opponent field goal percentage in school history, winning 23 games (second-most in school history) and hosting a WNIT Final Four game. Thomas Bateast helped coach Williams to her first All-Region award, as well as a First-Team All-American Athletic Conference award.
Prior to USF, Thomas Bateast spent seven seasons with the FIU women’s basketball program, working under head coach Cindy Russo and helping to develop All-American guard Jerica Coley. Under Thomas Bateast’s direction, Coley joined the 1,000-Point Club as a sophomore, becoming the sixth player in program history to achieve 1,000 career points in two seasons. Coley ended her career as one of the game’s most prolific scorers, setting FIU’s single season scoring record (840 points) in Thomas Bateast’s last season. Prior to her departure, Thomas Bateast witnessed her guard become the only player in FIU history to reach 2,000 points, 600 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals in her career, as a junior.
Thomas Bateast helped lead FIU (23-11) to its first 20-win campaign in the last 10 years as the Panthers posted their second-straight, 10-win Sun Belt Conference season and advanced to their second-consecutive SBC Championship semifinal. FIU would then earn an at-large bid to the Postseason WNIT, advancing to the postseason event for the first time since 2005-06.
Prior to her arrival at FIU, Thomas Bateast served as an assistant coach at the University of Rhode Island for two seasons. During her time at URI, she helped guide the Rams to a second-place finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference East Division in 2004-05, the program’s best finish since 1995-96. Her responsibilities included recruiting, player evaluation, opponent scouting, individual instruction and player development, practice and game preparation, and overseeing team academic progress.
Before joining the URI women’s basketball staff, Thomas Bateast served as an assistant coach at Dillard University in New Orleans, La., for two seasons. Under her leadership, the Lady Blue Devils captured back-to-back Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament crowns and back-to-back NAIA National Tournament apperances.
A two-time All-BIG EAST Third Team selection at the University of Miami, Thomas Bateast scored 1,284 points over her four seasons (1992-97) to rank 11th on the school’s all-time list. The Hurricanes’ all-time leader in both three-point field goals made and three-point field goals attempted, Thomas Bateast also holds UM’s single-game record for most free throws made (18) and attempted (22).
Upon graduating from UM in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration for sport management, Thomas Bateast joined the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA in 1997 and went on to play in Italy, Sweden and Turkey before returning to the United States to play for the Birmingham Power of the NWBL in 2002. The University of Miami inducted her into its Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
Thomas Bateast lives in Tampa with her husband, Wil, and daughter Kayla while son Keion is a freshman at the University of Central Oklahoma, majoring in Engineering.