BYU women’s basketball coach Jeff Judkins has filled the two vacancies on his coaching staff with a former men’s assistant and a former player.
On Thursday, BYU announced the hiring of Lee Cummard and Melanie Pearson Day. They replace Dan Nielson — who left to take over the Utah Valley women’s program — and Ashley Garfield, who joined Nielson in Orem.
Cummard, a former Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, was a grad assistant for Dave Rose on the men’s team for two years and was promoted to a full-time assistant coach last season. He had been considered for the director of operations job under new BYU coach Mark Pope.
Judkins has plenty of experience in making a move from the men’s side to the women’s game. He was once the lead assistant for Rick Majerus at Utah before coming to BYU as a women’s assistant under Trent Shippen in 2000. Judkins took over the women’s job in 2001 and has compiled a 377-178 record (68 percent) with nine NCAA berths and two Sweet 16 appearances (2002, 2014).
Known as “Spiderman” during his playing days, Cummard scored 1,569 career points and was the MWC Player of the Year in 2009. The Cougars made the NCAA Tournament three times while Cummard was in the lineup.
Cummard played seven seasons of professional basketball, mainly in France and Belgium, and retains good contacts overseas for recruiting.
Pearson Day is familiar to BYU women’s basketball fans as a member of Judkins’ first Sweet 16 team in 2002 after transferring from UCLA. Her previous coaching experience was with UNLV 2004 to 2007.
More recently, Day has been battling cancer. In 2017, the BYU women’s basketball program helped her fulfill one of her bucket list items by organizing a trip to attend a Duke-North Carolina men’s basketball game. A spokesperson for BYU said Day has been cleared to coach by her doctor and is keeping the cancer in remission with medication.
Below is the complete news release from BYU:
PROVO, Utah — BYU head women’s basketball coach Jeff Judkins today announced the hiring of former Cougar standouts Melanie Day and Lee Cummard as assistant coaches.
“I’m really excited to have Melanie and Lee as assistant coaches,” Judkins said. “Both were great players and both will work hard to help our program continue to be successful. I think our players will learn a lot from them as they work to make our program the best it can be.”
Melanie Pearson Day played three years at UCLA and one season at BYU. She was on coach Judkins’ first Sweet Sixteen team in 2001-02 that went 24-9 overall. During that season, Day averaged 11.8 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, was named to the 2002 Mountain West Conference Third Team and garnered one MWC Player of the Week citation. As a Cougar, she had career highs in points with 30, in rebounds with nine, assists with four and in steals with two.
In her three years at UCLA from 1996 to 1999, Day played in a total of 83 games, shot 42.3 percent from the field, 40.1 percent from 3-point range and 72.3 percent from the free-throw line. She totaled 778 points, pulled down 254 rebounds and had career totals in assists with 125, steals with 87 and 22 in blocked shots. The Bruins recorded back-to-back 20+win seasons in 1998 and 1999, finishing second and first, respectively in the Pac-10, and made it to the Elite Eight in 1999.
Before transferring to BYU, Day served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Lisbon, Portugal.
After her playing career, Day was an assistant coach at UNLV from 2004-07. In those three years, the Lady Rebels combined for a 48-42 record including back-to-back postseason WNIT appearances in 2005 and 2006.
“Melanie was a great player for us and I was lucky to have her for one year,” Judkins said. “The fact that she played for me will be a big bonus. She was always a coach both on and off the floor. She’s really excited to get back into coaching and especially happy to be back at BYU.”
The Irvine, California, native prepped at Woodridge High School and helped the team to back-to-back state championships her junior and senior years. Her team also won three CIF Championships. Day was a two-time All-State honoree, a four-time All-CIF player and was the Division II California Player of the Year as a junior and senior. She was also a two-time league MVP and a 1995 AAU All-American.
Day has a degree in geographic information systems from BYU. She and her husband Preston have three children and reside in Lehi.
All-American Lee Cummard served one year as an assistant coach on the men’s basketball team (2018-19) and two years as a graduate assistant (2016-18) after completing a standout collegiate career with the Cougars and a successful professional career. In the two years as a graduate assistant, he helped BYU to back-to-back 20-win seasons and a pair of trips to the NIT.
Cummard was a member of the Cougar men’s team from 2005 to 2009, where he was a three-time All-Mountain West Conference player. After earning third-team honors as a sophomore in 2006-07, he was a first-team honoree in 2007-08 and 2008-09. Cummard was the Co-Player of the year and received Associated Press All-America honorable mention recognition in 2007-08. He also earned all-district honors from the NABC and USBWA in 2008 and 2009 and was named a fourth-team All-American by FOXSports.com in 2009.
As a senior, he averaged 16.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists while shooting .517 from the field, .387 from downtown and .842 from the free-throw line. Cummard finished his career ranked ninth all-time in scoring, first in career games and consecutive games played, sixth in steals and second in free throw percentage at BYU.
A four-year starter, he helped the Cougars achieve a 97-34 (.740) record and four straight postseason invitations, including NCAA Tournament bids the last three years. Under the tutelage of former BYU coach Dave Rose, Cummard and the Cougars earned recognition in the top-25 rankings during his last three seasons while becoming the first MWC team to achieve back-to-back-to-back regular season championships, including outright titles in 2007 and 2008 and a share of the title in 2009. He concluded his career ranked in the top-10 in eight career MWC statistical categories, including points scored (10th), field goals made (7th), field goal attempts (9th), rebounds (T6th), assists (9th), minutes played (10th), games started (6th) and games played (3rd).
“Lee is making a similar adjustment to what I did in transitioning from coaching the men to the women,” Judkins said. “He has a great passion for the sport of basketball, and he knows both the inside and outside game really well. He’ll be a great teacher for our players.”
The Mesa, Arizona, native prepped at Mesa High School where he was named the 2004 Arizona Player of the Year and a McDonald’s All-America nominee. Cummard led Mesa to the 5A State Championship, averaging 20.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists, as a senior in 2003-04. He shot 56 percent from the floor and made 41 percent of his three-point attempts, while being named region player of the year in 2004.
Cummard graduated from BYU in 2018 with a master’s degree in public administration and received his bachelor’s degree in business management in 2009. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tennessee. He and his wife Sarah have three sons.