Ariel Braker joins OU women’s basketball coaching staff

By: Zachary Manning | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 1, 2019

 New Oakland University women’s basketball assistant coach Ariel Braker sits on the bench at a game during her time with Lehigh University. Braker’s first official day with the Golden Grizzlies was July 1.

New Oakland University women’s basketball assistant coach Ariel Braker sits on the bench at a game during her time with Lehigh University. Braker’s first official day with the Golden Grizzlies was July 1.

Photo provided by Lehigh University Athletics

GROSSE POINTES — After coaching out of the state for the last few seasons, former Grosse Pointe North basketball standout Ariel Braker is moving back home.

Braker accepted an opportunity to join the Oakland University women’s basketball coaching staff as an assistant coach.

“I’m really excited,” Braker said. “I know a lot of the coaches here, I’ve seen a lot of great talent come out of here, so I’m just excited to be back.”

Braker comes to Oakland with a wealth of playing and coaching experience. After graduating from North in 2010, she found herself at the University of Notre Dame playing for Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw.

She spent four years with the Fighting Irish, completing her senior season as a team captain in 2013-14. As a senior, she averaged 4.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.

After her playing career ended, Braker began her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Wayne State University for the 2014-15 season. Braker has also made coaching stops at Western Texas College (2016-17) and most recently Lehigh University from 2017 to 2019.

Last season, the Mountain Hawks posted a 21-10 overall record and a 12-6 Patriot League mark.

“I applied for the Oakland job a few years ago, but I didn’t have enough experience yet, so it was kind of nice that it came back full circle after I kind of put in my two years in Pennsylvania and my year in Texas,” Braker said.

Oakland coach Jeff Tungate noted that it’s great to have Braker on the staff and that “her credentials speak for themselves.”

“She will play a major role in recruiting, developing our post players and implementing our press. Ariel is a winner and a rising star in this profession,” Tungate said in a prepared statement.

Braker decided to join the Golden Grizzlies staff because it was a step up in competition, a chance to work with people she’s gotten to know and an opportunity to be closer to family.

As she continues to climb the ladder in the game, Braker is unsure of the path she wants to take. Some days, she wants to be an athletic director, but she’s also striving to be a head coach.

Braker has also taken note of the women moving into coaching positions in the NBA and said a job like that could move onto her radar some day.

But as of right now, Braker is ready to get to work with the Golden Grizzlies and push toward getting better every day. Oakland finished last season with a 6-24 overall record and a 3-15 Horizon League mark.

“I just want to get better. I’m excited,” Braker said. “I know there’s some improvements that we can make on the team, and I want to be able to come in now and make an immediate impact. And I want that impact to show not only by our record, but with the improvement and the player development of all the girls and things like that. So I’m excited to kind of get my feet wet, start working with the post players, start getting the team together.”