Women's Basketball Staff
Title: Women's Head Basketball Coach
In B.J. Smith’s initial season as the Highland head coach, the Scotties finished with a record of 28-4 in 2011-12, finished second inthe Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference, achieved a top five national ranking for most of the season, and had the Jayhawk Conference Player of the Year in Kat Thomas who was also a First Team All-American. For those accomplishments, Smith was named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association national Coach of the Year.
Smith came to Highland with a tremendous track record of success as a coach and motivator. Smith has coached players from all over the world who have made All-American teams, been drafted into the WNBA, played in the Olympics, and played professionally overseas. He understands the level of player it takes to be a difference maker for every program and has the know-how to teach players the skills necessary to succeed.
Coach Smith has been a coach at every level (high school, community college, NAIA, NCAA Division I) and has proven the ability to teach. As the head coach at Southeast Missouri State, he led the Redhawks to their four most successful NCAA Division I seasons in the history of the program and an Ohio Valley Championship along with qualifying for the NCAA tournament for the first time in the history of the school. As a community college coach at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (99-7), he developed one of the top programs in the country, winning the powerful Bi-State Conference three years in a row as well as finishing fourth in the country in 2000 and National runner-up in 2002. At the NAIA level, he was legendary coach Denny Price's assistant at Phillips University where they won the only Sooner Athletic Conference Championship in the history of the school and finished second in the final NAIA national poll. He also started the men's and women's track and cross-country programs. They both finished in the top 20 nationally in their first year.
As a community college head coach, Smith has graduated 100% of his players and had them go on to play at places like Oklahoma, Memphis, Depaul, Arkansas State, and numerous other universities across the country.
Title: Women's Basketball Assistant Coach
Jillian Palan is the women's basketball assistant coach at Highland Community College and also serves as an assistant to the Director of the Walters Wellness Center. After graduating from Lathrop (MO) High School, Palan attended North Central Missouri College and completed coursework at the University of Evansville and Drury University before completing a bachelor's degree from Central Methodist University. In addition to being an assistant coach for the junior varsity at Central Methodist, Palan has been a data entry specialist at Novak Birks P.C. in Kansas City, a teacher assistant at North Central, and a tutor in the Academic Reinforcement Center.