May 19, 2008
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara first-year women's basketball head coach Jennifer Mountain announced the addition Leigh Gregory and J.R. Payne to her coaching staff this week. Both Gregory and Payne were Bay Area collegiate athletes playing for Cal and Saint Mary's, respectively.
"I'm really excited to have J.R. and Leigh join our coaching staff," said Mountain. "Both individuals really care about the well-being of the student-athlete and of team. They are a great fit with our University's mission and the mission of this Santa Clara basketball program."
Gregory comes to Santa Clara after a season as an assistant coach at the University of Denver. At Denver, she served as the team's travel coordinator, prepared scouting reports, assisted in daily practices and the recruitment of high school and junior college student-athletes. The Pioneers went 11-19 last season and 6-12 in the Sun Belt Conference.
Prior to her year in Denver, Gregory served as head coach of the 2007 East Bay Xplosion, an AAU squad out of Walnut Creek, Calif., and as the assistant women's basketball coach at Carondelet High School in Carondelet, Calif., this past season. Gregory was a member of the Golden Bears' women's basketball team where she was a four-year starter from 2001-05. As a team captain in 2005, she earned All-Pac-10 athletic and academic honorable mention as a senior. Gregory finished her career ranked 11th in career points with 1,136 and fifth in career free throws made with 280. She graduated from Cal with a bachelor's degree in sociology.
"Leigh will bring youth and energy to the program," said Mountain. "She is coming back home to the Bay Area and her enthusiasm for recruiting will help us develop a great connection with local talent."
Payne comes to the Mission Campus after serving as an assistant coach for two seasons at Boise State. At Boise State, she served as the co-recruiting coordinator and the position coach for the Bronco point guards. Payne was also involved with practice sessions, scouting and camps.
Payne is no stranger to the West Coast Conference as she served as an assistant coach with Mountain at Gonzaga University and was a student-athlete at Saint Mary's College. With the Bulldogs, she served as an assistant coach with Mountain at Gonzaga University. There she was responsible for the program's recruiting efforts as well as the on court coaching and development of the perimeter players. As a student-athlete she helped guide the Gaels to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1999 and was named to the All-WCC first team as a senior and was a two-time conference all-tournament selection. Payne graduated from Saint Mary's with a bachelor's degree in French.
"The experience she has and her enthusiasm for recruiting will be beneficial for our program," said Mountain. "She has a great knowledge of the game that will help develop our athletes and this program to its potential."