Buffs Bring Back Hall of Famer
BOULDER – A familiar face around the CU Events Center will be more of a constant fixture this upcoming season for the Colorado women's basketball team.
Head coach JR Payne announced the hiring of Colorado Athletics Hall of Famer, Shelley Sheetz on Tuesday. She will serve in a non-coaching role as the Assistant to the Head Coach & Director of Player Development.
"I am very excited to return to my alma mater," Sheetz expressed. "It feels like I am coming back home where it all started. This is an incredible opportunity and I am so honored and grateful that Coach JR has asked me to join the program and the University of Colorado."
"We are absolutely honored to have Shelley joining our staff," Payne exclaimed. "It's not very often that a team can add one of the greatest players in their program's history to its staff. There are so many things to love about Shelley and what she will add to our program but I believe the best thing is that she will finally be where her heart is. Shelley has always bled Black & Gold and to have her be able to continue to pour into helping us build a championship ballclub will be incredible. I know that she will be a huge asset in mentoring our players both on and off the court and their comfort with her will allow that to happen seamlessly. As we all like to say, "It's a Great Day to Be a BUFF!"
Sheetz, who spent last season as the radio color analyst on the Colorado Radio Network, returns to CU in an official capacity for the first time since wrapping up her standout career in 1995.
"Being around the team last season - I can't thank Coach JR, the coaching staff and the players for allowing me to be part of such a memorable and historic season," Sheetz noted. "Coach JR allowed me to be at all practices, shootarounds, film sessions and team meals. I got to see first-hand the attention to detail, passion and work ethic that was being poured into the program to be successful.
"Being a part of last season, I was able to get to know the players behind the uniform," Sheetz continued. "At first, I think the players were a little nervous to talk to me, however, that quickly changed during my first road trip (Arizona State/Arizona). I remember it very vividly. After the shootaround at ASU, Frida [Formann] and a few players were changing their shoes and started joking around with me. Frida asked 'so back when you played, how did you watch film? Was it on those VHS tapes?' Everyone kind of held their breath to see how would respond, knowing the dig was a sly way of saying I'm old—I like to say I am 'seasoned.' I responded with 'yes, and in fact, I also had an awesome AM/FM yellow Sport Walkman cassette tape that I used to listen to all my jams and hype music before the games.' After that, the flood gates opened with all sorts of questions."
Sheetz capped a record-setting career by being named CU's first, and only, Kodak All-American following the 1995 season when she led the Buffaloes to a 30-3 record. That same year, she was also afforded the honor from the Associated Press, Basketball Times and the USBWA, and was one of five finalists for the prestigious Naismith Award.
She finished her career as CU's second all-time leading scorer with 1,775 points, a figure that is still fifth almost two decades later; she is also second in steals (287), third all-time in assists (514), fourth in free throws made (425), eighth in free throw attempts (501) and second in three-point field goals made (252), a number that finished as the most all-time in the Big Eight Conference.
Sheetz was a three-time, first-team All-Big Eight performer, the only player selected thrice in school history, and was a two-time team MVP and the Big Eight Player of the Year for 1994-95. She averaged scoring in double figures all four of her seasons, leading the team as a sophomore, and was the second-leading scorer the other three years. CU was 106-21 during her career, including a 49-7 mark and three league titles in Big Eight play.
Following her time at CU, Sheetz played two-pus seasons in the American Basketball League (1996-98) with the Colorado Xplosion and Portland Power. She also played overseas with BTV Wuppertal (Germany).
Sheetz began her coaching career, serving as an assistant at Washington State (1999-00). She has had stops at San Diego (2001-05), Pepperdine (2005-08), Denver (2008-12 & 2020-21), Boston College (2012-15) and Loyola-Maryland (2017-20).
"What drew me back was Coach JR, the staff and the players," Sheetz added. "When I stepped away over a year ago I had several offers to stay in coaching," Sheetz recalled. "I wanted to take the full year off. I played golf, was able to travel a bit and was able to connect with Cory Lopez, and do the color commentary for the team. I can't thank Cory enough for all he did for me this past year. He was my road dog and we had so much fun.
"A lot of things had to line up for me to get back into the game. It had to be the perfect scenario. To have this opportunity to come back to Boulder and be part of CU women's basketball again was the icing on the cake. I couldn't imagine a better situation."
Outside of coaching, Sheetz has worked for Under Armour, the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and Amazon.