Meet new Northeastern women’s basketball coach Priscilla Edwards—a teacher, coach, recruiter and entrepreneur

A smiling woman holds a basketball
New Northeastern women’s basketball head coach Priscilla Edwards takes over the reigning CAA regular-season champion. Photo by Alyssa Stone/Northeastern University

Priscilla Edwards, who was officially introduced earlier this month as Northeastern’s new women’s basketball coach, is a former player with a variety of coaching experiences and a lifelong entrepreneur. She takes over a 19-12 team that earned its first share of the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season championship while winning nine of its last 10 games.

When CAA coach of the year Bridgette Mitchell left the Huskies after two years to take over at Fordham (near her hometown of Trenton, New Jersey), athletic director Jim Madigan and deputy AD Regina Sullivan quickly zeroed in on Edwards, a four-year guard at St. Bonaventure (2004-08) who joined the coaching staff at her alma mater in 2009.

Edwards had stints at St. John’s (2012-15, where she helped develop four WNBA draft picks), Providence College (as associate head coach for five years) and for the past two seasons at Clemson, where she helped the Tigers go 19-16 with a pair of wins against ranked opponents last season.

“My mother was the ultimate example of sacrifice and hard work,” said Edwards as she worked her way through the array of people who had helped her reach her dream. “She came to this country from Ghana, West Africa, and just wanted to provide a good life for us. I’m so thankful for her guidance, leadership and love—and support of all of my random and crazy ideas.”

The Huskies program “is in a really good spot,” Madigan said. Most of the team is returning, including the All-CAA backcourt of Derin Erdogan and Gemima Motema as well as forward Deja Bristol, the CAA Sixth Player of the Year.

“We wanted a teacher, a coach, a recruiter, an educator, someone who had empathy, someone who had come from winning programs, had been through different stages in their coaching profession … Everything we were looking for, Priscilla had,” Madigan said. “We believe with Priscilla’s experience and knowledge of the game—her ability to coach, her ability to relate to student-athletes—that the best is yet to come for Northeastern women’s basketball.”

Edwards answered a variety of questions (see below) at her introductory event at Cabot Physical Education Center, including one about when she realized Northeastern was the right fit.

“To be honest,” she said, “I knew a couple years ago when I applied for the job the first go-round and didn’t get it.”

Edwards framed that answer with a sense of perspective that bodes well for her and her program.

“It’s all about timing, about when the moment is right,” she continued. “And it wasn’t my time then. But I knew that when that opportunity did come, I’d be ready.”

She added: “This is a new era of Northeastern basketball, one that we’ll lead with passion. We will exude excellence in everything we do. I’m so excited and cannot wait to get started.”

What is your vision for the players?

I try my best to lead from a place of love and also get them to understand and realize their power as young women. I want them to be winners on and off the court. 

I want us to be scholars and to build that championship culture—that we want to tap into your highest potential, both academically as well as athletically. I want them to be leaders, to have a voice, to believe in themselves and be passionate enough that their ideas matter and go out and make an impact in the world. 

I want them to enjoy this. Basketball is fun. And there’s nothing more fun than winning championships. So why not strive for that?

What does this opportunity to lead your own program mean for you?

You dream about days like this getting the opportunity to take over a program. Everything I’ve done has been a culmination of this moment. It’s exciting, it’s nerve-racking but it’s something that I wouldn’t want to have any other way.

When did you meet with the players?

I had an opportunity to meet the team [April 28]. The moment I met them, I was so excited because I knew that they had a clear vision in their mind of who they wanted their next leader to be. I had a chance to hear about their goals and their aspirations and things they wanted to do. And a lot of those things aligned with what I want to do.

How will you develop your style of play?

Some of their strengths are in transition and playing with space and tempo, and those are things that I like as well. We’re going to use this time to add some of the things that I like in terms of how we move the ball, how we’re going to defend, being active defensively, disciplined defensively. So I’m really excited to build on some of the things they’ve demonstrated that they’re already really talented at and grow from there.

We have a chance to be special.

You praised a former coach, Amanda Butler, for “serving the hearts of young women.” What does that look like for you?

It’s knowing their best days when they’re dropping 30 [points] or their worst days when they’re not playing well at all—and treating them the same. You find ways to help them grow through the hard times. You help them grow even when they’re achieving success. You’re not going to let anything sway your perception of them. You know that they’re a young person growing into themselves and your job is to help them through that process.

You run “Priscilla Edwards Basketball,” which offers life and basketball skills development for players at all levels. You’ve also owned a coffee shop in Providence in addition to other ventures. How has your sense of entrepreneurism influenced your career in basketball?

Entrepreneurship gave me an outside-the-box way of thinking about things in the basketball space whether it’s recruiting, marketing a brand or getting people excited about what you’re doing. I’ve been an entrepreneur since high school and I know Northeastern has that emphasis too. It really aligns with who I am. 

Ian Thomsen is a Northeastern Global News reporter. Email him at Follow him on Twitter @IanatNU.