Ashley Earley, a former Vanderbilt star who graduated in 2005, joined head coach Melanie Balcomb’s staff as an assistant coach in the summer of 2013. Earley works with the VU post players and contributes significantly to recruiting.
During the 2014-15 campaign, she played in a key role in helping the Vanderbilt post players emerge as one of the best-shooting groups in the nation. Sophomore Marqu’es Webb shot a team-high 59.5 percent from the floor, and three other VU post players also shot over 50 percent from the field — Heather Bowe (52.2), Rayte’a Long (54.5) and Kristen Gaffney (50.9). Collectively, the Commodores shot 45.4 percent, which ranked 10th in the country and second in the SEC.
In her first season on the VU bench, she played a key role in the development of the Commodores’ frontcourt players, and her efforts helped Vanderbilt earn an NCAA tournament berth for the 15th consecutive season.
Prior to joining the Commodore coaching staff, she spent the previous season as an assistant coach at the University of Virginia.
Earley has an immediate connection with the Commodore players, thanks to her own terrific career as a player at Vanderbilt from 2001-05. During that time, she helped lead her teams to the Elite Eight in 2002, the Sweet 16 in 2004 and 2005 and SEC Tournament Championships in 2002 and 2004.
As a senior at Vanderbilt, she was a unanimous first-team All-SEC selection, Kodak All-Region, Associated Press honorable mention All-American and Full Court Press second-team All-American. She paced the Southeastern Conference in field goal percentage and offensive rebounds and was a candidate for both the Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award. She capped her career with 1,382 points, which ranks 20th in program history.
After being drafted by the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, Earley played professionally for the Maccabi Tel Kabir in the Safsal Israeli League. She embarked upon a career in coaching following her playing career, first as a graduate assistant at the University of Alabama. From Tuscaloosa, she went on to spend two seasons as an assistant coach at Tennessee Tech before spending one season on the staff at the University of Rhode Island.
Earley then moved to Marquette in 2010, helping the Golden Eagles to the second round NCAA Tournament and a 24-9 mark. She was in Milwaukee for one more season before moving to Virginia in April 2012.
A native of Memphis, Tenn., Earley was an outstanding prep player who was the 2001 Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year. She was also named High School All-America by Parade, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and USA Today for her senior season at Briarcrest High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Arts and Science at Vanderbilt, while also earning a master’s in marketing from the University of Alabama in 2007.