Charlene Thomas-Swinson joined the LSU women’s basketball staff in July 2015. The coaching veteran came to LSU with over 20 years of coaching experience on all levels of the game, including head coaching stops at St. John’s and Tulsa.
Thomas-Swinson has been instrumental in the development of SEC All-Defensive Team members Faustine Aifuwa and 2017 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Raigyne Moncreif-Louis. Louis became the only LSU player to record 1,600 points, 700 rebounds, 250 steals and 300 assists in a career. She was a 2018 WNBA Draft pick.
Thomas-Swinson’s work with LSU’s post players helped develop Aifuwa, All-SEC performers Ayana Mitchell and Alexis Hyder into some of the top rebounders in the Southeastern Conference. In 2015-16, Hyder led the SEC in offensive rebounds with 122 and finished the season in the top 10 in rebounding in total games as well as just league contests. Hyder earned an honorable mention All-SEC nod by the Associated Press after leading LSU in both scoring and rebounding that season. Mitchell has been consistently ranked among the top five rebounders in the league, while Aifuwa is climbing the ladder into the top 10.
On the recruiting trail, Thomas-Swinson has been a key factor in bringing in some of LSU’s most recent nationally-ranked recruiting classes, including the No. 20 ranked class in 2019.
No stranger to the SEC, Thomas-Swinson spent seven seasons in the league as an assistant coach at Auburn and Florida. She also served as an assistant coach for the USA Women’s Basketball National Team in 1999 and was an assistant coach for the WNBA’s Orlando Miracle from 1999-2002.
Thomas-Swinson began her collegiate coaching career with a three-year stint at Columbia Union College in Maryland before she returned to her alma mater, Auburn, in 1992 under WBCA Hall of Fame Coach Joe Ciampi. The Tigers racked up 85 victories and reached the NCAA Tournament three times. Auburn made the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1993 and the NCAA Elite Eight in 1996.
Thomas-Swinson took over as the head coach at St. John’s for three years from 1996-99. She landed three Top 30 recruiting classes sparked by the nation’s No. 15 rated class in 1999 before she left St. John’s to join 1999 WBCA Coach of the Year Carolyn Peck with the WNBA’s Orlando Miracle for three seasons. During that time, Thomas-Swinson also was an assistant coach for USA Basketball for two years where she coached with the 1998 USA Women’s Select Team and the 1999 USA Women’s National Team.
Thomas-Swinson returned to the college game and the SEC at Florida under Peck. The Gators earned a spot in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, and she was instrumental in Florida landing a Top 10 recruiting class in 2005.
Thomas-Swinson moved back into the head coaching ranks at Tulsa from 2005-11. She guided the Golden Hurricane to a 26-6 mark during her first season en route to the 2006 Conference USA regular season and tournament titles. Tulsa knocked off No. 5 seed North Carolina State in the NCAA Tournament First Round before dropping a hard-fought four-point decision against DePaul.
The 2006 C-USA Coach of the Year, Thomas-Swinson played a major role in the development of Jillian Robbins, a two-time Associated Press and WBCA All-America Honorable Mention pick. She concluded her career as the school’s record holder for points (2,108), rebounds (1,313), field goals (747), free throws (602), steals (347), blocks (251) and double-doubles (66).
Thomas-Swinson was a four-year letterwinner and was a three-year captain at Auburn from 1983-87. She won 99 career games, and Auburn secured its first-ever SEC regular season championship during her senior season. The Tigers also won the 1987 SEC Tournament title.
Auburn made a trio of NCAA Tournament appearances during Thomas-Swinson’s playing career, highlighted by a NCAA Sweet 16 trip in 1986 and a NCAA Elite Eight run in 1987. She currently ranks ninth in Auburn’s record book with 761 career rebounds. She also is eighth with a .536 career field goal percentage.
Thomas-Swinson earned her bachelor’s degree in business management from Auburn in 1992. She and her husband, Aaron A. Swinson, have two children: a son, Charles, and a daughter, Jada.
The Charlene Thomas-Swinson File
Birthdate: December 11, 1965
Hometown: Takoma Park, Maryland
Education: Auburn, 1992 (Business Management)
Experience: 6th season at LSU in 2020-21
YEAR, POSITION, SCHOOL
1989-92, Assistant Coach, Columbia Union College
1992-96, Assistant Coach, Auburn University
1996-99, Head Coach, St. John’s University
1999-2002, Assistant Coach, Orlando Miracle (WNBA)
2002-05, Assistant Coach, University of Florida
2005-11, Head Coach, Tulsa University
2015-present, Assistant Coach, LSU