Frank Forte gets to know assistant coach Desma Thomas Bateast
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Former WNBA and two-time All-Big East guard Desma Thomas Bateast has been named a FAU women's basketball assistant coach
Former WNBA and two-time All-Big East guard Desma Thomas Bateast joined the Florida Atlantic University women’s basketball staff in April 2017 as an assistant coach.
In her first season as an assistant coach at FAU, Thomas Bateast helped coach the Owls to a seventh place finish in Conference USA, the program’s highest finish since joining the league in 2013. Working primarily with the guards, Thomas Bateast helped the Owls improve three-point shooting by three percent and overall scoring by more than seven points per game.
Thomas Bateast also played a large part in bringing in FAU’s eight-member 2018 singing class.
This is Thomas Bateast’s sixth career coaching stop. She most recently spent four seasons at USF as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. She also was the head coach at St. Thomas University (Miami) and an assistant at FIU, Rhode Island and Dillard University. The Bulls utilized Thomas Bateast’s ability to evaluate and recruit talent, as well as her on-court instruction and strong knowledge of the game, to reach back-to-back NCAA Tournaments and the 2014 WNIT Final Four during her tenure.
In 2016-17, Thomas Bateast helped the Bulls notch their fifth-consecutive 20-win season and third-consecutive NCAA Tournament and American Athletic Conference Championship (AAC) appearances. The team finished with a 24-9 overall record and 11-5 in AAC play. With Thomas Bateast's guidance, Flores finished her junior campaign as USF's new single-game assists leader with 17, set a single-season assists record and was ranked nationally in five categories including assist turnover ratio (No. 14), assists (No. 19), assists per game (No. 20), minutes per game (No. 21) and minutes played (No. 27).
At USF, Thomas Bateast played an integral role coaching the guards and overseeing the development of Courtney Williams, the Bulls highest WNBA draftee. Williams finished the 2015-16 season with a USF record 763 points, breaking her freshman single-season record. She was named a WBCA All-American. Fellow graduate Shalethia Stringfield also earned postseason accolades under Thomas Bateast’s tutelage as the Bulls went 24-10 overall (14-4 AAC).
Thomas Bateast also helped guide the 2014-15 Bulls to a school-record 27 wins and a second-place finish in the AAC, while guard Courtney Williams led the conference in scoring (20.3 ppg) and set a USF season record with 710 points. Williams earned her second first-team all-conference honor and was named an All-American Honorable Mention.
In her first season with USF, the Bulls posted their lowest opponent field goal percentage in school history, winning 23 games (second-most in school history) and hosting a WNIT Final Four game. Thomas Bateast helped coach Williams to her first All-Region award, as well as a First-Team All-American Athletic Conference award.
Prior to USF, Thomas Bateast spent seven seasons with the FIU women’s basketball program, working under head coach Cindy Russo and helping to develop All-American guard Jerica Coley. Under Thomas Bateast ‘s direction, Coley joined the 1,000-Point Club as a sophomore, becoming the sixth player in program history to achieve 1,000 career points in two seasons. Coley ended her career as one of the game’s most prolific scorers, setting FIU’s single-season scoring record (840 points) in Thomas’ last season. Prior to her departure, she witnessed the guard become the only player in FIU history to reach 2,000 points, 600 rebounds, 300 assists and 200 steals by the completion of her junior year.
Thomas Bateast helped lead FIU (23-11) to its first 20-win campaign in the last 10 season as the Panthers posted their second-straight 10-win Sun Belt Conference season and advanced to their second-consecutive SBC Championship semifinal. FIU would then earn an at-large bid to the Postseason WNIT, advancing to the postseason event for the first time since 2005-06.
Preceding her arrival at FIU, Thomas Bateast served as an assistant coach at the University of Rhode Island for two seasons. During her time at URI, she helped guide the Rams to a second-place finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference East Division in 2004-05, the program’s best finish since 1995-96. Her responsibilities included recruiting, player evaluation, opponent scouting, individual instruction and player development, practice and game preparation, and overseeing team academic progress.
Before joining the URI women’s basketball staff, Thomas Bateast served as an assistant coach at Dillard University in New Orleans for two seasons. Under her leadership, the Lady Blue Devils captured back-to-back Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament crowns and back-to-back NAIA National Tournament appearances.
A two-time All-BIG EAST Third Team selection at the University of Miami, Thomas Bateast scored 1,284 career points (1992-97) to rank 11th on the school’s all-time list. The Hurricanes’ all-time leader in both three-point field goals made and three-point field goals attempted, Thomas Bateast holds UM’s single-game record for most free throws made (18) and attempted (22).
Upon graduating from Miami in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration for sport management, Thomas Bateast joined the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA in 1997 and went on to play in Italy, Sweden and Turkey before returning to the United States to play for the Birmingham Power of the NWBL in 2002. She was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. Thomas Bateast lives with her husband, Wil, and daughter Kayla, while son Keion is a sophomore at the University of Central Oklahoma, majoring in Engineering.