Millikin hires Pana native as women's basketball coach

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Oliva Lett comes to Millikin after helping the University of Chicago to the NCAA Tournament as an assistant the past two seasons. Oliva Lett comes to Millikin after helping the University of Chicago to the NCAA Tournament as an assistant the past two seasons.

MILLIKIN -- When legendary coach Lori Kerans announced she was transitioning into a non-basketball role with Millikin University, it was just the second time in the history of the school that it was in search of a replacement coach.

Now the Big Blue is hoping Pana native Olivia Lett will have similar longevity as Kerans (32 years) and Harriett Crannell (16 years).

Lett, a rising star in the coaching world, most recently helped the University of Chicago to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances as an assistant and before that was on staff with her alma mater, Illinois Wesleyan. While in Bloomington, she was named D3hoops.com Player of the Year in 2012. She began her career at the Division-I level at Southern Illinois.

“The experience Olivia has gained being a vital part of winning collegiate programs will serve her well as Millikin’s new head coach,” Millikin athletic director Dr. Craig White said in a school release. “She has the knowledge, energy and competitive nature to be a great head coach and we are excited that she is bringing those qualities to the Big Blue women’s basketball program.”

Lett will be coaching about a half hour from her hometown of Pana, Ill.

“I am extremely excited to be returning to Central Illinois to be the head women's basketball coach at Millikin University,” Lett said in a statement. “I want to thank President Patrick White, Dr. Craig White, and the search committee for this opportunity. Millikin University athletics is a special community with rich history. I am looking forward to building on the extraordinary foundation laid by Coach Kerans. I hope to bring an exciting style of basketball to the Griswold Center by emphasizing hard work, toughness, and fundamentals. I am excited to begin the next chapter of Big Blue women's basketball. I can't wait to get started."

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