4/3/18 ASHLAND, Ohio – On Tuesday (April 3) afternoon, Associate Head Coach and former Eagle All-American Kari Pickens was elevated to head coach of the AU women's basketball program after Robyn Fralick was named as head coach of NCAA Division I Bowling Green women's basketball.
Pickens becomes the 13th head coach in Ashland women's basketball history following five seasons as an assistant, including one as the program's associate head coach.
"I would be remiss not to just thank God, honestly, for this opportunity," said Pickens. "He brought me to Ashland. I've gone through so much transformation in my time here. I hope that in my time as Head Coach, I can continue to see that transformation."
"Kari Pickens has been successful at every stage of her basketball career," said Al King, Ashland Director of Athletics. "She grew up around the game, thrived at every level as a player and is now one of the best young coaches in the game. She's a phenomenal teacher, a relentless recruiter and a tireless student of the game. As a player, Kari could play any position on the floor. She shows the same versatility as a coach. She's well versed in every facet of the profession.
"As fine a coach as she is, Kari is an even better person. We always talk about finding the right fit at Ashland University. Kari is definitely that. She's driven to excel in each part of her life and she understands the need to strive for excellence academically, socially and athletically. She's an outstanding role model for our student-athletes."
Pickens is synonymous with the success Ashland's women's basketball program has had over the last seven seasons, starting with putting up perhaps the best back-to-back seasons as a player in Division II women's basketball history after transferring from Division I Dayton.
During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, in which Ashland was the national runner-up and won its first national championship, Pickens recorded 1,414 points and 903 rebounds, seventh- and fourth-most all-time at Ashland, respectively. She has the Division II women's basketball record for most consecutive games with a double-double in a career (34), and still claims Eagle program records for single-game rebounds (24), single-season points (744), single-season rebounds (492), single-season rebounding average (14.1) and career scoring average (21.8).
Pickens' playing accolades included being named two-time Honda Sports Award D-II Female Athlete of the Year, 2013 Capital One Female Student-Athlete Academic All-American of the Year, 2013 Capital One Women's Basketball Academic All-American of the Year, two-time WBCA National Player of the Year, two-time WBCA first-team All-American, 2013 D-II Elite Eight Most Outstanding Player, two-time Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year and 2013 GLIAC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
As an assistant coach, Pickens was named WBCA NCAA Division II Assistant Coach of the Year in 2016-17, and earned one of the WBCA's inaugural "Thirty Under 30" awards in 2015-16.
"Robyn is a wonderful human being, and I'm going to miss seeing her every day a lot," Pickens said. "I feel very confident moving forward that Robyn has taught me as much as I can know going into the head coaching position. I want to thank Robyn for everything she's poured into my life, and into the lives of these girls."
Basketball is in Pickens' blood. Her younger sister, Andi Daugherty, recently finished her Eagle career ranking in the program's top five in points scored (third, 2,105), games played (tied for first, 138), field goals made (third, 773), free throws made (second, 386), field-goal percentage (fourth, 52.8), free-throw percentage (fourth, 80.8), rebounds (third, 923), assists (fourth, 398) and blocks (fifth, 110). She is the first player in program history to be a four-time GLIAC All-Defensive Team selection, and the first Ashland College/University student-athlete to earn three CoSIDA Academic All-American awards.
Pickens' older sister, Kristin Ronai, played four seasons at Dayton, finishing with 1,498 career points and three third-team All-Atlantic 10 honors. Pickens' parents, Caroline (Ohio University) and Bill (Wilmington College) Daugherty, are Hall of Famers at their respective alma maters, and Caroline racked up an OU-record 2,449 career points and 1,223 career rebounds.
As for the tasks at hand moving forward, Pickens said, "I would like to have my top assistant coach named by the end of April, so that we can have a great start into recruiting and camps.
"I'm not going to change the culture. It's just going to have a little bit of me now."
Fralick's three-year run as Ashland Head Coach is among the most impressive in the history of the NCAA, across all levels and sports. Her career record of 104-3 (.972) is the best among all NCAA head coaches with a minimum of 100 career games. Included in that stretch is a 73-game winning streak, fifth-best in NCAA basketball history at any level and for either gender, and the Eagles' 73 wins over the last two seasons are the most in a two-season period in NCAA Division II women's basketball history.
Ashland won the 2017 Division II national title with the first 37-0 season in D-II hoops, men or women, and was the first D-II women's basketball team to reach the title game in consecutive seasons (2017-18) since the Eagles accomplished the feat in 2012-13.
Under Fralick's guidance, Ashland became the first GLIAC women's basketball program to win three regular-season and tournament championships in a three-year period. She is a three-time GLIAC Coach of the Year, two-time Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II National Coach of the Year, and two-time Columbus Dispatch Ohio Women's Basketball Coach of the Year.
Prior to becoming Ashland's Head Coach, Fralick was an assistant with the Eagles for seven seasons, the last four as Associate Head Coach.
Ironically, Fralick's first game guiding the Eagles came on Nov. 7, 2015, a 59-53 win in an exhibition contest at Bowling Green.
"We are grateful to Robyn Fralick for continuing our traditions of excellence at Ashland University," said Ashland University President Dr. Carlos Campo. "Robyn and her husband Tim have exemplified the highest and best of AU values as coaches of our record-setting women's basketball team, and we wish them every success and blessing during this next phase of their journey."
Said King, "I want to wish Robyn the best as she embarks on the next chapter in her career. She's enjoyed a historic run here and what she's accomplished is mind boggling. She's directed a class program from top to bottom. Robyn has attracted the attention of coaches and administrators from every level of the college game and from every corner of the country. She's an elite coach."
"I am incredibly grateful that Carlos and Al have the confidence in me," Pickens said. "I'm very excited for the opportunity to keep the excellence of Ashland women's basketball moving forward."