April 13, 2009
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue head women's basketball coach Sharon Versyp announced this morning that Ukari Figgs has been hired as an assistant coach. Figgs will begin work at Purdue on April 20.
"I am excited and grateful to have the opportunity to return to Purdue to be a part of coach Versyp's staff," Figgs said. "Purdue has provided me with many wonderful memories and I look forward to being a part of many more to come."
Figgs played point guard for the Boilermakers from 1995 to 1999, and in her senior season, led Purdue to an NCAA national championship. The 5-foot-9 co-captain was named the 1999 Final Four Most Outstanding Player after recording game-highs of 24 points in the semifinal win over Louisiana Tech and 18 points against Duke in championship. As a senior, Figgs averaged 16.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists and was named first team All-Big Ten as well as Associated Press and Kodak honorable mention All-American.
In 2007, Figgs was inducted into the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame.
"I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Ukari back to Purdue," Versyp said. "She is a competitor who has won at every level - a state championship in high school, a national championship in college, a world championship in the WNBA and most recently, she has been a champion as a professional in the world of engineering. She epitomizes what Purdue women's basketball is all about with her leadership, intelligence, work ethic and commitment to success. Ukari was able to connect with our staff and our team when she was here for the 1999 National Championship reunion weekend and it was obvious at that time what this program and this university mean to her. We had an impressive pool of candidates for this job and Ukari was by far the best fit."
Figgs graduated from Purdue with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1999, and is currently a production engineer for Toyota Motor Manufacturing in her hometown of Georgetown, Ky. She has been with Toyota for over five years.
Drafted in the third round as the 28th overall pick by the Los Angeles Sparks, Figgs played five seasons in the WNBA. She was with the Sparks for three seasons, including the one culminating in a WNBA Championship title in 2001. Figgs played one season for the Portland Fire before they disbanded and was picked up by the Houston Comets in the 2003 Dispersal Draft. She played one season in Houston before retiring from basketball. For her five-year WNBA career, Figgs averaged 6.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
Figgs, along with high school and future Purdue teammate Camille Cooper, led the Scott County High School girls' basketball team to a state title in 1995. She was named Kentucky Miss Basketball as a senior after averaging 18.6 points, 7.1 assists, 6.4 rebounds and 4.3 steals per game at Scott County. She went head-to-head in the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star Game series against Indiana Miss Basketball Stephanie White, who went on to become her classmate at Purdue.
Figgs spent two seasons (2003-05) as an assistant coach with the boys' varsity basketball team at Scott County.