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Bearcat Coaching Staff: Aaron Swinson

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Why is it that the University of Connecticut seems to be in the mix for a national championship year after year in women's college basketball? It could be the legendary coaching that makes up the staff in Storrs, Conn. or it could be the highly talented recruits the Huskies seem to hoard like they did wins while breaking John Wooden's UCLA Bruins record streak of 88.

    Jamelle Elliott and the University of Cincinnati women's basketball program may not have the benefit of the rich tradition UConn has, but they do have a new member to their staff that has an expertise in molding young players and bringing out the best in their game.

    Bearcat nation, please welcome Aaron Swinson, who is the step in the right direction when it comes to building a talented group of women to start the evolution of a perennial program in the Queen City.

    "One of the things I was most impressed with is his player development as well especially with the post players," Elliott said. "He's a gentleman and he's always bringing great insight no matter what we do whether it's on the court or off the court."

    Swinson comes from a very competitive family. Growing up in Georgia, the newest addition to the program was initially interested in football after he idolized Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson and the type of attributes he possessed.

    "When I saw that number 29 with the Rams I knew football was going to allow me to get tough," Swinson said. "I went out on the basketball floor and brought that toughness from the football field and that's when I knew that was my passion."

    As a youngster, Swinson was forced to sit out when his family members were playing basketball due to his uncles' idea that he was too small. That idea seems like a farce based on the six foot five frame that allowed Swinson to compete in professional basketball.

    "From that point on, it started building up to me picking up a basketball and doing these little small things that would make me better," Swinson said.

    His experiences playing high school basketball lead him to have a chance to get a free education and play South Eastern Conference basketball at Auburn University. Swinson's high school coach, who he calls his mentor, was pivotal in developing his skills - which is the same thing he is trying to do with the 12 women wearing the red and black.

    Swinson's body of work speaks for itself. While a Tiger, Swinson was a three-year letterwinner and two-time captain. He was a two-time all-SEC performer and ended his career ranked second with a .609 field goal percentage, right behind his former teammate while on the Phoenix Suns, Charles Barkley. He also average 16.9 points during his career at Auburn and amounted 1,386 points, good enough for 12th all-time.

    "When I got to Auburn there was that one fit that I knew this had to be the place for me," Swinson said. "With Coach Tommy Joe Eagles and his staff and all the players that I played with I knew this is where I wanted to be and it was a great experience."

    The former Tiger had many stops playing professionally after his four years at Auburn. During the span of 11 years, Swinson played ten years internationally in Spain, Italy, France and Argentina. He earned MVP honors and won a championship while playing in Continental Basketball Association with the Yakima Sun Kings. He also enjoyed a brief career with the Phoenix Suns of the NBA in 1994.

    "My third year over in Europe I was playing with a team, Valencia, right there in Spain and I was able to be around people like Tim Perry and Reggie Fox and they taught me how to be a professional athlete," Swinson said. "With me being so young and energetic, I wanted to dunk and break every backboard they were like 'Hey, look this is how you're supposed to do things, we need you to help us.' And we were very successful with that mentality."

    Swinson then got into the field of coaching and player development leading him to the job he has now. He got his start in women's athletics as a varsity girl's basketball coach at Holland Hall Preparatory School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Actually applying for the vacant men's coaching job, Swinson was able to get his start coaching there.

    "I didn't want to really coach, I thought I could maybe help develop players," Swinson said.

    After his time coaching high school basketball, Swinson was able to get a job as an assistant coach for the Tulsa 66ers an NBA Development League team. While in the NBA D-League, he was able to begin developing players for the next level

    "Ramon Sessions being one of the guys that I mentored a whole lot," Swinson said. "He actually got an opportunity to stay in the league and make a lot of money and that was my passion."

    Gaining coaching experience to go along with his understanding of playing the game has allowed him to implement his expertise. Before arriving at Cincinnati, Swinson was an assistant coach under his wife, Charlene Thomas-Swinson, at the University of Tulsa. He was important in developing Larrissa Williams, a Conference USA defensive player of the year. Now alongside Elliott, Swinson hopes to have the same impact on the Bearcats.

    "I'm going to do everything I can to help this program," Swinson said. "This is what this community wants to have."

    Swinson knew coming in what it means to wear the C-Paw logo. Compared to Tulsa's small community, Cincinnati not only has an bigger office for Swinson to stretch his legs out, but friendly people that make him want to be here for a long time.

    "I knew what the BIG EAST was all about and I knew the success that Coach Elliott came from," Swinson said. "For her to have me be a part of this, I need to do something to help out."

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