Former St. Thomas head coach Desma Thomas Bateast joined the USF women’s basketball staff in July of 2013, filling head coach Jose Fernandez’s staff and she taking on the role of assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
The Bulls are Thomas Bateast’s fifth stop in her coaching career, as the former WNBA guard has spent time at St. Thomas, FIU, Rhode Island and Dillard University prior to joining USF. The Bulls will make use of Thomas Bateast’s ability to evaluate talent and recruit, as well as her on-court instruction and strong knowledge of the game as they attempt to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2014.
In Thomas' 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 helped coach sophomore Courtney 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.
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.
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 children, Kayla and Keion.