On Sunday, April 12, 2015, Joni Taylor, a member of the Georgia Basketball Staff for four seasons, was appointed just the second full-time head coach in the program's illustrious history.
Taylor’s success over her first four seasons as head coach has garnered national attention. She herself has won numerous awards, while mentoring a total of five All-SEC honorees and three WNBA Draft picks over the last four years.
During the 2017-18 campaign, the Lady Bulldogs had a breakout season as Georgia finished second in the SEC standings with a 26-7 record. As a result, Taylor was named a semifinalist for the prestigious Werner Ladder Naismith National Coach of the Year Award.
The team’s 26-7 overall record marked the most wins for a Georgia squad since the 2012-13 season. The Lady Bulldogs also hosted the NCAA tournament first and second rounds in Athens for the first time since 2003.
This comes just two years after she won the coveted Spalding Maggie Dixon National Rookie Coach of the Year honor after compiling 21 wins in her first season as head coach in 2015-16.
Her success is not solely what happens on the court. She has been heavily involved in the Athens community, creating the award-winning Beyond Basketball – a meeting place for women in Athens to discuss happenings and issues in and around the area.
Under her guidance, two Georgia student-athletes – Marjorie Butler and Haley Clark – have earned the SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year Award, while five (Shacobia Barbee, Tiaria Griffin, Pachis Roberts, Caliya Robinson and Mackenzie Engram) have garnered All-SEC honors.
Taylor entered her current position as Georgia's head coach with 13 seasons of coaching experience at the Division I level, including seven within the Southeastern Conference. The Meridian, Miss., native joined the Georgia staff in 2011 and spent one season as an assistant coach before being promoted to associate head coach. Prior to arriving in Athens, Taylor coached at LSU from 2010-11, at Alabama from 2008-10, at Louisiana Tech from 2005-08 and at Troy from 2002-05.
During each of those coaching stops, Taylor has displayed the ability to both sign premier prospects and then help those recruits develop into highly successful players.
Taylor helped Alabama and LSU land top-5 individual prospects in the classes of 2010 and 2011, respectively, and also spearheaded the Crimson Tide's recruiting class for 2010 that ranked among the nation's top 10. She helped Louisiana Tech ink the 2006 Miss Basketball for both Alabama and Mississippi and Troy sign two future Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year honorees.
Taylor succeeded Andy Landers, the only previous full-time women's basketball coach in the program's history. Landers announced his retirement in March 2015 after 36 seasons. Landers compiled a 862-299 record at Georgia, making him one of only seven college basketball coaches -- women's or men's -- to record 850 wins at a single NCAA Division I school.
Taylor herself was a highly sought after basketball prospect. She was the 1997 Gatorade Player of the Year for Mississippi after leading Meridian High to a 67-7 record during her junior and senior seasons. She also won three state titles in track and field and was selected as the school's Homecoming Queen.
At Alabama, Taylor was a significant contributor to four teams that reached post-season play -- the 1998 and 1999 NCAA Tournaments and the 2000 and 2001 WNITs. She was a two-year starter and scored 716 points, grabbed 555 rebounds and blocked 103 shots, which is No. 4 among the Tide's career leaders.
Taylor also was a standout off the basketball court. She was recognized as one of the most influential African Americans on the Alabama campus in 2001, was named to the SEC's Community Service team for women's basketball in 1999, 2000 and 2001 and was awarded a post-graduate scholarship from the SEC for her community service record. She received her bachelor's degree in Education from Alabama in 2002.
Taylor and her husband Darius have two daughters, Jacie and Drew