AUBURN, Ala. – Bob Starkey, widely considered one of the top minds in all of college basketball, has been named an assistant coach for Auburn women’s basketball, head coach Johnnie Harris announced Thursday.
“I can’t express how excited I am to have Bob Starkey joining our team,” Harris said. “Bob is a game-changer for Auburn women’s basketball. His experience building and coaching championship teams will be invaluable to our program. I have known Bob for many years, and there is no better basketball mind that we could have as part of our staff. Our young ladies will benefit greatly from his ability to share his knowledge of the game and his commitment to a championship mentality. We are extremely blessed to have Bob join our Auburn Family.”
Starkey, who has more than 30 years of experience in the SEC, comes to The Plains after recently completing his ninth season as an assistant at Texas A&M, where he helped lead the Aggies to the SEC regular-season title.
“I’m extremely excited to be here at Auburn,” Starkey said. “First and foremost, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with Johnnie Harris. She’s somebody I’ve had a tremendous amount of respect for over the years. To be able to teach with and learn from her is an exciting next step in my career. I’m also old enough to remember the glory days when Joe Ciampi and Auburn went to Final Fours, and I competed against Nell Fortner when they won their last SEC Championship, so I’m aware of the greatness that can be obtained here. I’m looking forward to getting Auburn back to those heights.”
Starkey has had a decorated career, having been a part of 780 collegiate victories, 24 NCAA Tournaments, eight trips to the Elite Eight and five straight trips to the Women’s Final Four (2004-08), including serving as Acting Head Coach for LSU’s 2007 Women’s Final Four run.
Starkey was named to the A Step Up Assistant Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame in March of 2020 for his incredible career and contributions to the game of basketball.
His former players have gone on to distinguished post-collegiate careers, including both an NBA Finals MVP, Shaquille O’Neal (2001, 2002), plus two WNBA Finals MVPs, Seimone Augustus (2011) and Sylvia Fowles (2015, 2017). Ten of his players have been drafted in the First Round of the NBA or WNBA Draft, including top five picks Augustus (first overall), O’Neal (first), Fowles (second), Chris Jackson (third) and Kelsey Bone (fifth). Seven of his players were named NBA or WNBA All-Rookie during their first year in the league.
In addition, three of his players—O’Neal (1996 Atlanta), Augustus (2008 Beijing, 2012 London & 2016 Rio de Janiero) and Fowles (2008 Beijing, 2012 London & 2016 Rio de Janiero)—have gone on to win Olympic Gold Medals.
One of the best defensive coaches in basketball, Starkey’s teams have allowed an average of 56.6 points per game since 2004-05. In seven of those seasons, Starkey’s team has ranked among the top 10 nationally in points allowed per game, and seven of his players have been named to the SEC All-Defensive team, since the conference started naming that team in 2007-08.
His players have won the SEC Defensive Player of the Year three times, with A&M’s Jordan Jones winning the award twice (in 2013-14 and 2014-15) as well as Fowles in 2007-08.
Since arriving in College Station in 2012, Starkey has helped the Aggies to the 2013 SEC Tournament Championship, the 2021 SEC Regular-Season Championship, the 2014 NCAA Elite Eight, and four NCAA Sweet 16s.
Starkey spent 22 seasons (1989-2011) at LSU, the last 13 of which came on the bench with the women’s basketball program. He helped the Lady Tigers to five straight Final Fours from 2004-08, and served as Acting Head Coach for the 2007 NCAA Tournament (4-1).
Starkey helped guide LSU to four SEC Championships, 12 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, eight Sweet 16s, seven Elite Eights and five consecutive trips to the Final Four. He was a key component in the Lady Tigers’ outstanding record of 326-105 (.756) from 1998-2011.
In his first role at LSU, Starkey served as an assistant coach for Dale Brown on the LSU men’s basketball staff from 1990-96, during which time the Tigers participated in four NCAA Tournaments. While on the men’s staff, Starkey worked closely in developing three first-round NBA draft picks in Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Jackson and Stanley Roberts. As a recruiter, he helped sign three nationally-ranked recruiting classes, including one which was rated No. 1 in the country.
In his collegiate coaching tenure, Starkey has worked with 20 teams that have won at least 20 games and has been a postseason participant 20 times.
Before his extended stretch at LSU, Starkey spent one year as an assistant at Marshall during the 1988-89 season and three seasons as a men’s assistant coach at West Virginia State from 1984-87. In his final season at West Virginia State, he helped guide the Yellow Jackets to conference and district titles on their way to the NAIA National Championship game.
Starkey began his coaching career as an assistant at Winfield High School in West Virginia.
Heavily involved in charitable causes, Starkey serves on the board of directors for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, A STEP UP, and the H.O.P.E. Foundation.
Starkey, who considers himself a full-time student of the game, has written numerous articles and has authored such basketball books as The 2-3 Match-Up Defense and Motion Offense. His latest project is a Basketball Coaching Series of books that include The Art of Being An Assistant Coach, The Art of Scouting and The Art of Motivation. Starkey is a master motivator and runs his own coaching and player online blog that features daily updates at hoopthoughts.blogspot.com.
Starkey is originally from Charleston, W.Va., and is married to the former Sherie Hayslett, also a native of West Virginia.