As former Louisiana Tech standout and assistant coach Kim Mulkey, new head women’s hoops coach at LSU, prepares to be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame on Saturday, former mentor Leon Barmore took a few minutes to talk to the Lincoln Parish Journal about Mulkey’s storied career.
Q: What do you remember about recruiting Kim Mulkey in high school?
A: The first time I saw her she was in the 10th grade. She won four state championships at Hammond High School. What I noticed the first time I saw her is when she came out for warmups, she had the type of charisma where everyone was looking at her. She was averaging 38, 39 points a game, and was the biggest draw in women’s basketball in the state of Louisiana. Just the way she carried herself. She showed it in her mannerisms that she came to do one thing … win. That is what stood out to me.
Q: What made Kim such a success on the court at Louisiana Tech?
A: Very few athletes have in their DNA her type of competitive gene; the type that simply won’t tolerate losing. She was like that with our team and with herself. She wanted to be great. She carried that desire over to our team. I have coached very, very few people that have her type of competitive DNA; the type of spirit that Kim has.
Q: What was Kim like as a young assistant coach on your staff.
A: Kim was a sponge for knowledge. She listened. She learned. She took notes. Kim is a self-made coach. She set her goals higher than most people. And let’s face it, she achieves those goals. She was willing to learn and to listen. And because of that when the time came, she was ready to be a great head coach because of her background. I gave her so many responsibilities. I made her learn everything, and she wanted to learn everything. I knew she would be ready to be a great head coach when the opportunity presented itself. And that’s what she has been.
Q: Why do you think she has been so successful as a head coach?
A: I think from day one she was a competitor. I think the one thing Kim did as a coach was she made every player accountable. She did not leave a door cracked open for a player to do what they wanted to do. If they came into her program, she was not going to allow them to be second best. Her practices were something to watch. That’s where you develop your team. In practice. She drove her players with that fire in her belly. She made her players feel the same competitive way she did.
Q: What was so special about her practices?
A: They were just so intense. If she had a two hour practice, they practiced for two hours. They didn’t mess around for 30 minutes and then practice for 90. They were organized. They were intense. That’s how you make players better and your team better. That’s what I saw.
Q: Kim becomes the fourth Louisiana Tech alum to enter the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
A: Kim deserves to be there. She has earned the right to be there. It will be the greatest single happening in her professional career. It’s the pinnacle of her coaching career. I am so proud that we have four people from Louisiana Tech in (the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame). I stick my chest out with pride that Karl (Malone), Teresa (Weatherspoon), Kim and Coach Barmore are all in there.