Former LSU and WNBA standout Temeka Johnson has been hired as the McKinley High girls basketball coach.

Johnson, who announced her retirement from pro basketball last month, accepted the offer to coach the Panthers from McKinley Principal Esrom Pitre after visiting the school last week.

“We were familiar with Temeka, because she came and met with our girls last year,” Pitre said. “We wanted to gauge her interest and we feel like she is the person who can help us rebuild this program so we can get to that next level.”

Johnson, 36, was a star point guard who helped LSU to two Final Fours. She was a two-time first-team All-Southeastern Conference Player and went on to play 14 seasons professionally, including 11 in the WNBA. Johnson was the WNBA Rookie of the Year in 2005, when she played for the Washington Mystics and later won a WNBA title with the Phoenix Mercury in 2009.

“I have a passion for basketball and for helping young people,” Johnson said. “I’m sitting here watching the Lynx-Sparks right now on TV knowing that this is the level most players want to get to.

"Basketball is a sport where you can achieve great things, but it also teaches lessons about life. I want to help these players become strong young women.”

McKinley finished as the District 4-5A runner-up to eventual Class 5A semifinalist East Ascension. The Panthers were banned from the playoffs in all sports for 2018-19 as the result of LHSAA sanctions. Johnson takes over for Ella Reado, who Pitre said has moved to Broadmoor for 2019-20.

Johnson, a former Bonnabel High star, said she toured the school, met with Pitre and then prayed about what to do next. “I prayed and God said yes,” Johnson said. “I can’t wait to meet with the girls and get started.”

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