Vickie Johnson #55 of the San Antonio Silver Stars brings the ball up court during the game against of the Detroit Shock in Game Three of the WNBA Finals on October 5, 2008 at Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The Shock won 76-60 and won the WNBA Championship. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images)
Vickie Johnson during the game against of the Detroit Shock in Game Three of the WNBA Finals at Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center in 2008. Credit: Courtesy / NBA Entertainment / Domenic Centofanti for Getty Images

One of the WNBA’s pioneer players has been named head coach of the San Antonio Stars, the club announced on Thursday.

Vickie Johnson, the 12th player selected in the 1997 draft of elite players from other women’s pro leagues that helped create the WNBA, becomes the ninth head coach in franchise history. She succeeds Dan Hughes, who coached the team for 11 seasons and also served as general manager.

In April, Hughes stepped down from both positions at the conclusion of the Stars’ 2016 season, replaced as GM by Ruth Riley.

Johnson signed with the Stars in 2006, when they were still known as the Silver Stars. She became a key building block who helped lead them to the 2008 WNBA Finals, along with Becky Hammon, now a Spurs assistant coach.

Johnson ended a distinguished pro playing career after the 2009 Stars season and was named an assistant coach in 2011, when Hughes returned as head coach after a one-year hiatus.

“Having spent 10 years in San Antonio, first as a player, then as an assistant coach, this city feels like home,” Johnson stated in a team press release. “Our Stars players are young, talented and hardworking. We also have a dedicated fan base in a great basketball town, and I’m looking forward to getting to work this spring when we tip off our 15th season in San Antonio.”

Riley called Johnson, who joined the Stars in 2006, “the perfect candidate to lead our team, moving forward,” citing her experience, passion for teaching, fierce competitive spirit and commitment to the Stars organization.

A native of Coushatta, La., Johnson has played professionally in Israel, France, Hungary and Turkey, in addition to the WNBA. A two-time All-American at Louisiana Tech, she was inducted in the Louisiana Tech Hall of Fame in 2007.

Johnson’s WNBA career began with the New York Liberty, in the league’s first season. She was the first player in WNBA history to record 4,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in a career, and retired with 4,243 points, 1,641 rebounds and 1,205 career assists. She played 13 WNBA seasons, nine with the New York Liberty and four with the Stars, retiring as the league’s all-time leader in games (410) and minutes played (12,435). Johnson was one of 10 players voted to the Stars All-Decade Team in 2012, as part of the team’s 10th season in San Antonio.

Johnson posted career averages of 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 13 seasons in the WNBA, averaging double-digit points in seven seasons. She started all but two of her 410 career games, and amassed a 159 games-started streak which currently ranks eighth in WNBA history.

“We have been very fortunate to have Coach Johnson as a part of our Stars family for the past decade,” Riley stated. “She has a strong understanding of our culture and goals, and we are thrilled that she will be our next head coach.”

Mike Monroe is a longtime, award-winning NBA and Spurs reporter who recently retired from the Express-News and is now contributing to the Rivard Report.