Mitty girls basketball Coach Sue Phillips piling up honors and victories

Sue Phillips has been piling up honors for decades. A couple more this month have given her a chance to reflect on her career.

The Mitty girls basketball coach, a 1986 Graduate of the school, was inducted into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 9 and two days later learned she was a nominee to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

“It’s been an Incredible week,” said Phillips, who has more coaching wins than any girls high school basketball Coach in Northern California history (761) and six state championships. “I’m so grateful to be acknowledged.”

Phillips is a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame committee, so she’s spent the past few weeks reviewing the process for nominations. She didn’t know that the rest of the committee had been reviewing her qualifications.

She was watching the Nov. 11 South Carolina-Maryland game on ESPN when the Nominees were announced. That was when she saw her name among the 12 nominees.

“I was floored,” she said. “I was so surprised and honored, what a really cool thing to be a finalist, and to see it like that.”

Phillips’ Monarchs were ranked 12th team in the country by ESPN heading into this season, her 30th at the San Jose school.

Phillips, who is also a math teacher at Mitty, has coached more than 50 players who went on to play in Division I, including Stanford’s Haley Jones, one of the top players in the country.

“She’s a really tough coach,” Jones said. “The relationship I created with her was one where she could get on me every day. I took that and knew it was from a place of her wanting me to reach my full potential.”

Jones said Phillips “not letting up” on her during some of her rough days helped her grow, and her support to encourage her to keep at it was an essential balance.

With USA Basketball, Phillips has coached the likes of Arike Ogunbowale, Katie Lou Samuelson, AD Durr, Aliyah Boston, and Paige Bueckers. Earlier this month, JuJu Watkins — one of her U17 players — committed to USC as the top recruit in the country.

Ashley Hiraki, a junior at Santa Clara, recalled a game in her senior year at Mitty when the team was down by 20 at halftime. Phillips’ speech was motivational, Hiraki said, and that “struck momentum for the rest of the season.”

“She was a huge influence on me,” said Hiraki. “She is someone you listen to. I wouldn’t be where I am without her.”

The 2018 Mitty team, led by Jones and Hiraki, earned top national rankings from ESPN, MaxPreps, and USA Today and was declared the mythical national Champion by USA Today and espnW.

Phillips has been named National Coach of the Year by the WBCA, Naismith, and Gatorade, and in 2019 coached the McDonald’s All-American game. She won gold medals with USA Basketball’s U16 national team at the 2013 FIBA ​​Americas tournament and the U17 team at the FIBA ​​World Cup the following year. This summer, she won U17 gold at the FIBA ​​World Cup in Hungary.

A top player herself while at Mitty, Phillips had an offer to play basketball at Cal, but ultimately opted to play softball at Northwestern, where she was an All-Big Ten selection. In the end, she returned to basketball and the Bay Area, spending time as an Assistant Coach at Cal between coaching stints at her alma mater.

She was inducted into the Mitty Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998 for her accomplishments as a three-sport athlete (basketball, softball, and volleyball).

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