OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - Former Tennessee standout and four-time SEC champion Ariel Massengale has joined head coach Matt Insell’s staff as a graduate assistant for Ole Miss women’s basketball.
With the arrival of Massengale, the Rebels add more Southeastern Conference experience to the program, as well as another connection to Insell's home state. Massengale is a 2015 graduate of the University of Tennessee and won four SEC titles during her time in Knoxville.
"It’s always special when you can add someone to our program with the resume that Ariel has over her time as a player in the SEC and professionally," Insell said. "Ariel is someone that I have been close with for many years. I could not be more excited for her to be able to start her coaching career on our staff here at Ole Miss. She will be a huge asset to our program on and off the court, and I feel she is a future star in our business."
Massengale was part of legendary head coach Pat Summitt's final recruiting class at Tennessee, and she brings a wealth of experience to Oxford.
"I’m excited to be here and give back my knowledge to Ole Miss basketball," Massengale said. "Being part of Coach Summitt's last recruiting class is something I'll cherish forever, and I feel like that has provided me great knowledge about this conference and what it takes to win at the top level."
In addition to the string of SEC titles, Massengale helped guide the Volunteers to one Sweet 16 and three Elite Eight berths.
Following her collegiate career, Massengale was selected 29th overall in the third round of the 2015 WNBA Draft by the Atlanta Dream. She was sidelined during the 2015-16 season after undergoing microfracture surgery on her left knee. After a season of rehab, Massengale landed in Finland, but soon after decided to hang up her sneakers.
"After talking to my family and my agent and thinking about what’s best for me long-term as a person, I decided it was best to hang up the basketball shoes," Massengale said. "It was difficult because I didn’t expect my career to end that way."
While her playing days have passed, her career in the game continues alongside some familiar faces at Ole Miss.
Massengale is a native of Bolingbrook, Illinois, and was the state's Ms. Basketball for the class of 2011. However, both of her parents hail from Tennessee, including her father, who is a native of Insell and assistant coach Alex Simmons' hometown, Shelbyville.
"Growing up, you think you’re going to play basketball forever, so hanging it up was very hard,” Massengale said. “I thought about coaching because I still love the game and wanted to be around it. Coach Alex and Coach Matt being from Shelbyville and Alex being a former Lady Vol, they’ve always been in my corner, so I reached out to them. They were excited about the opportunity to bring me on board, and I'm glad to get back into the game."
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