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Nikki McCray-Penson

A two-time Olympic gold medalist and 1998 World Cup gold medalist as an athlete, Nikki McCray-Penson entered her first assignment as a USA Basketball court coach for the 2019 USA Basketball Women’s U19 and Pan Am Games team trials. Her overall playing record with USA Basketball is 139-8.

Currently head coach for Mississippi State University, McCray-Penson spent three seasons (2017-18 through 2019-20) as head coach at Old Dominion University, where she earned Conference-USA Coach of the Year honors in her final season. McCray-Penson launched her coaching career as an assistant at Western Kentucky University in 2006-07 before joining her former USA Basketball teammate Dawn Staley at the University of South Carolina from 2008-09 through 2016-17.

McCray-Penson won four gold medals and was a member of nine USA Basketball teams. She was a part of the historic 1995-96 USA National Team that spent more than 10 months together compiling a 52-0 record in the lead-up to the Olympics. A standout at the University of Tennessee where she won a NCAA championship in 1991, she is a three-time WNBA All-Star selection, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012 after playing professionally for 11 years, also being named 1996-97 American Basketball League Most Valuable Player.

Prior to Old Dominion, McCray-Penson served as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky University from 2006-07 to 2007-08 before her time as an assistant coach at the University of South Carolina for nine seasons (2008-09 to 2016-17.) While at USC, McCray-Penson helped coach the team to their first NCAA Championship in 2017 and also helped recruit the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class and the top player in the country in 2014.

USA Basketball Athlete Bio

  • For McCray-Penson's full USA Basketball athlete bio, including statistics, please go here.

In 1996, she signed her first professional playing contract with the Columbus Quest in the American Basketball League, leading them to the league championship. She joined the WNBA and the Washington Mystics in 1998 and was the team’s leading scorer in each of her first two seasons. She then played two seasons with the Indiana Fever and one each with the Phoenix Mercury, the San Antonio Silver Stars and the Chicago Sky before she retired at the end of the 2006 season. She finished her WNBA career with 2,528 points, averaging 10.1 points per game and shooting 43.1 percent.

McCray-Penson attended and played basketball at the University of Tennessee (1991-92 to 1994-95) where she won three Southeastern Conference regular-season titles, two conference tournament championships, and had four NCAA tournament appearances. The Tennessee native received her bachelor’s degree in education from UT in 1995.

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