PHOENIX – It was a short retirement for longtime Arizona State women’s basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne.
After announcing the end of her 25-year tenure on March 3, 2022, the Phoenix Mercury announced Friday that Turner Thorne would be joining the coaching staff of her protege, interim coach Nikki Blue, for the remainder of the 2023 WNBA season.
“She brings more than 28 years of experience to the Mercury,” Blue said, “and will be invaluable in providing our players with every opportunity to improve individually and as a team.”
Turner Thorne began her coaching career at Northern Arizona, where she spent three seasons and became the first coach in program history to lead the team to back-to-back winning seasons in 1994-95 and 1995-96.
Hired to turn around Arizona State’s program in 1996, Turner Thorne did just that, leading the Sun Devils to a 488-294 record over the next 25 years. She is the winningest coach in ASU women’s basketball history and accumulated the second-most wins by a Pac-12 coach.
After its foundation in 1975, ASU women’s basketball made the postseason four times in the first 21 years of the program’s existence. Once Turner Thorne came along, Arizona State saw postseason action every year but one during the period between 2000 to 2021.
This stretch included two Elite Eight appearances (2007 and 2009) and three other Sweet 16 appearances (2005, 2015 and 2019). Turner Thorne also led the team to two Pac-12 regular season titles in 2001 and 2016.
Blue served as an assistant coach at Arizona State under Turner Thorne between 2019 and 2022, so this hiring signals a reunion, just with the roles reversed.
“Charli is one of the top coaches in women’s basketball – a proven winner – and I am excited to be able to coach alongside her again,” Blue said.