There is really no place like home; just ask LeBron James.
That was the feeling Sunny Smallwood had when she joined the Boise State Broncos’ women’s basketball program as its newest associate head coach.
“Boise is just a great city and I loved going to school here,” Smallwood said. “I’m excited to work with this great group of people that I have had the chance to meet and believe so much in.”
Smallwood grew up in Boise, playing basketball at Boise High School and then later for Boise State.
“There are a lot of alums out there that would dream of coming back and working at their alma mater,” Smallwood said.
She most recently was the associate head coach at the University of Nebraska, where she led that program to multiple NCAA sweet 16 appearances.
“Nebraska wasn’t a big-time program when I got there, but me, along with all the other coaches, were able to turn it around and build something really great,” Smallwood said. “I believe the same thing about Boise State. To me there are no limits of what we might be able to do if we put our nose to the grindstone.”
During the course of her career, Smallwood has specialized in two distinct areas: recruiting and defense. In fact, Smallwood personally recruited former WNBA player Lindsey Moore. Boise State is hoping for more of the same.
“She has reorganized our recruiting. Now that we have a person like her we are hoping to steal some recruits from the big guys,” head coach Gordy Presnell said. “Our recruiting has already jumped in terms of who we are talking to, and the respect that she commands around the country will allow us to get into some really good players’ homes.”
Smallwood will take over the defense that at times has struggled in recent years.
“Defense is an area where we have had a hard time for a number of years,” Presnell said. “I’m hoping with her that we become one of the top defensive teams in our conference.”
This wasn’t the first time the Broncos had tried to add Smallwood on the coaching staff.
“We tried before to get her because she is one of the top coaches in the whole country,” Presnell said. “We have always focused on her and she was always at the top of our list, and she is going to be a great addition to our program and hopefully get us to a different level.”
In addition to recruiting and revamping the defense, Smallwood has already started to get to know and work with her players.
“I like that she has been really involved with us and is getting to know us now, instead of just waiting till practice starts,” junior forward Lexie Der said. “She is very open and that helps us to get to know her as well.”
Boise State is happy to have her back and is hoping she makes an immediate impact.
“I am excited because she seems to be very outgoing, funky, fun, and obviously a great coach,” Der said. “She has a good career behind her and I feel she will fit very well here and will bring something else that will help our coaches and ourselves benefit in new ways.”