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ROMAN OWEN, MIA BELL AND NNEKA ENEMKPALI HIRED AS UNLV WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ASSISTANT COACHES

ROMAN OWEN, MIA BELL AND NNEKA ENEMKPALI HIRED AS UNLV WOMEN’S BASKETBALL ASSISTANT COACHES

@UNLVLadyRebels

 UNLV women’s basketball head coach Lindy La Rocque announced the hiring of her coaching staff Tuesday. Roman Owen, Mia Bell and Nneka Enemkpali will all be assistant coaches for the Lady Rebels.

All three positions were approved before the state’s hiring freeze was instituted.

“I am so excited to have Roman, his wife Natalie and their two little girls join our Lady Rebel family!” said La Rocque. “Roman brings a wealth of coaching knowledge and experience to our program, but his true strengths lie in his moral character, integrity, and personal drive to impact the lives of young people. Our program is going to immediately benefit from Roman’s compassion and basketball savvy.

“I am also thrilled to keep Mia Bell in the Lady Rebel program. As an alum, Mia’s pride for UNLV and passion for basketball is unmatched. Her work ethic and enthusiasm for growth will push our program forward. Mia’s familiarity with UNLV makes for a seamless transition, she will continue to impact our young ladies in a positive light and help them develop on and off the court.

“I am so excited about the impact that Nneka Enemkpali will have on our Lady Rebel program. Nneka is a young rising star in coaching. She is extremely motivated and energetic about continuing to learn and grow, and will be a fantastic mentor for our team.”

Owen has coached at the collegiate level since 2008, and in the women’s game since 2010 when he began a three-year stint as head coach for Mid-American Christian University. He led the Evangels to a NCCAA Regional Championship and a consolation championship in the NCCAA National Tournament. His next stop was at Oklahoma, where he served as video coordinator under Hall of Fame coach Sherri Coale from 2013-15, while La Rocque was also a member of the staff during that period as a graduate assistant coach.

Owen has spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach at Yale (2015-18), Tulsa (2018-19) and most recently North Texas (2019-20). While at Yale, Owens was on a staff that guided the Bulldogs to the 2018 WBI Championship. At his most recent stop with the Mean Green, he handled all recruiting activities, set offensive game plans, had academic oversight of the team and also was in charge of the team’s scouting and technological needs. He also assisted with practice and overall game plans, workouts, and scouting reports in addition to coaching the point guard and wing position groups.

 

Owen’s first coaching experience came as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team at Oklahoma City University from 2008-10. The Stars won 32 games during his two years and made a 2010 NAIA National Tournament appearance.

A four-year letterwinner at Southwestern Christian University, he was named the 2008 Pete Maravich NCCAA Player of the Year and was a three-time NCCAA All-American, leading the team to back-to-back NCCAA National Championship games on the way to setting a program record with 2,802 career points. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Southwestern Christian in 2007 and his master’s degree in education from the University Central Oklahoma in 2009.

“I want to express my appreciation and gratitude to Coach La Rocque for bringing me on her staff,” said Owen. “It is a wonderful and exciting opportunity for many reasons but chief among them is that I have been convinced for some time now that she is going to be a great head coach. It is evident all through her playing career to the last seven years of coaching that she is committed to excellence on and off the floor and helping student-athletes become the best versions of themselves. My family and I are fortunate for such an opportunity to work with Coach La Rocque and be at a basketball name like UNLV.”

Bell will begin her 12th year with the Lady Rebel program in the fall, as she first joined the Scarlet & Gray as a player for the 2009-10 season. She is a graduate of Las Vegas’ Durango High School and was a teammate of La Rocque’s. Bell is the first Las Vegas native to both play for the Lady  Rebels and then serve on their coaching staff. During her first six years on the bench, the Lady Rebels reached the postseason twice (WNIT in both 2016-17 and 2017-18) and won the school’s first conference championship in 24 years as they claimed the 2017-18 Mountain West regular-season championship with a school-record 14-4 mark in MW play. She oversaw player development, seeing much success with the guards as three players (Dakota Gonzalez, Brooke Johnson (twice), Nikki Wheatley (twice)) earned All-MW honors over the past four seasons. 

Bell still ranks in the top 10 all-time at UNLV in numerous statistical categories, including third all-time in total assists (434) and three-point percentage (36.2%). She earned third team All-Mountain West honors after leading the Lady Rebels to a 22-10 mark that included a second-place finish in the league and a trip to the 2012 Postseason WNIT. Bell earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in December of 2013.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of Coach La Rocque’s staff,” said Bell. “I’ve had the privilege of knowing Lindy for well over a decade. She brings a wealth of knowledge and tons of success with her and I’m excited to assist her in building something special here at UNLV.”

Enemkpali comes to Las Vegas from UC Santa Barbara, where she spent two years as an assistant coach for the Gauchos. Her duties at UCSB included skill development of the post players, and she helped develop Ila Lane into the nation’s No. 1 rebounder and Big West Freshman of the Year in 2019-20. She was named one of the 50 Impactful Assistants in Division I Women’s Basketball by Silver Waves Media following the season with the Gauchos before joining the UNLV staff.

“I am excited to be joining the Lady Rebel family!” said Ememkpali. “Coach La Rocque’s pedigree speaks for itself, she understands what it takes to excel and win at the highest level. I am excited for the opportunity to work alongside her and witness the growth of this program!” 

Enemkpali’s first collegiate job was at Gonzaga University, where she spent two seasons as video coordinator as the Bulldogs posted a 53-13 overall record and won two West Coast Conference titles, making two NCAA appearances (2016-18).

She had a stellar playing career at the University of Texas where she was a three-time All-Big 12 selection. She averaged 10.0 points and 8.0 rebounds over her four years, and finished ranked 10th all-time in Longhorns history in total rebounds (899) and 30th in points (1,116). In addition to being an Academic All-Big 12 selection three times, she was also recognized as a Senior CLASS Award Second Team All-American for excellence in the community, classroom, character and competition.

Following her career at Texas, she was drafted in the third round (26th overall) of the 2015 WNBA Draft by the Seattle Storm, but missed the season due to a knee injury suffered during her senior year. She earned her degree from Texas in African American and African Diaspora Studies and was named to the Commissioner’s Honor Roll multiple times.