Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball interim head coach Isaac Lu was given a special recognition by the WBCA (Women’s Basketball Coaches Association) that was released on Monday.
Lu, in his first year as the women’s basketball head coach, was recognized as one of the 30 under 30 honorees for the 2022-23 season.
Lu is the only junior college coach on the list and is only one of five head coaches that were listed by the WBCA.
The WBCA Thirty Under 30 program was created to recognize 30 up-and-coming women’s basketball coaches aged 30 and under at all levels of the game and this is the eighth year the list has been compiled. Lu is the first WNCC basketball coach to make the list.
The press release said each honoree has exemplified their involvement in community service, mentorship and impact on others, professional manner, and attitude and professional association involvement.
WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew said these 30 coaches have shown key developments to their program and as up-and-coming coaches.
“Congratulations to these 30 coaches who have distinguished themselves so early in their careers,” Donehew said. “The WBCA is pleased to recognize this up-and-coming talent in our coaching family. We celebrate their effort on the basketball court as teachers and equally applaud the extensive role they play in impacting the lives of their student-athletes.”
Lu is in his third year as a coach for the women’s program at WNCC. He served as the assistant women’s coach from 2020-22 under then head coach Chad Gibney and was promoted to interim head coach last June. Lu guided the Cougars to a 21-9 record this season including a win over New Mexico Junior College that was ranked fifth in the nation. Lu was one of the youngest head coaches at any level when he took over the Cougar job at the age of 23.
Besides Lu, the other four head coaches to be recognized on the 30 Under 30 list included Alisha Breen from Montana State-Billings, Abby Jump from Memphis, Kylie Russell of Milligan University, and the only high school coach on the list in Jessica Venturelli of Holmdel High School in New Jersey.
Lu’s other accomplishments that he achieved in his three years at WNCC included a 20-win season in his first year and being selected as the Region IX South Coach of the Year.
In his role as an assistant coach with the Cougars, the team was ranked in the top 10 in the NJCAA in 2021 and fourth in the country in 2022 and an Elite Eight finish at nationals in 2021 and knocking off the number one team in the nation.
WNCC also finished in the Final Four finish at nationals in 2022 and beating a number of top 25 teams while playing an integral role in implementing the No. 3 scoring offense in the country. He was also a part of sending seven players to Division I programs from that team a year ago including schools like Clemson, Minnesota, St. Bonaventure, Western Carolina, Sam Houston, Radford, Louisiana Monroe, as well as No. 1 ranked NAIA Central Methodist University (Genet Mebratu).
Lu also mentored and developed Aminata Zie, now at Minnesota, who led the NJCAA in field goal percentage.
The other 25 coaches are all assistant coaches at four-year institutions. They include Sarah Assante, Dartmouth College; Katrina Beck, Illinois State; Kaelynn Boyd, U. of Texas-Arlington; Chelsie Butler, Youngstown State; Khyreed Carter, Syracuse; Nina Davis, Middle Tennessee State; Symone Denham, Bradley; Jillian Dunston, Drexel; Sadie Edwards, Oregon; Catherine Harrison, Middlebury College; Bri Hutchen, Delaware; Jasmine Jenkins, Davidson College; Jenna Kotas, Ashland; Olivia Luu, California State Polytechnic-Pomona; Ariel Massengale, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville; Kabrina Merriweather, Mempis; John Montello, Indiana-Purdue; Mariva Moore, Saint Mary’s College; Denise Osahor, Oklahoma; Jacob Roark, Faulkner; Ali Sanders, Harvard; Allison Spaschak, Rochester; Hannah Varel, Transylvania; Shelby Wheeler, U. of Pikeville; and Jeanne-Marie Wilson, Howard.