Rutgers hires former WNBA stud Nikki-McCray-Penson to be assistant women’s basketball coach

Rutgers hires former WNBA stud Nikki-McCray-Penson to be assistant women’s basketball coach

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Rutgers has hired former Tennessee star Nikki McCray-Penson as an assistant coach for the women’s basketball team.

Scarlet Knights coach Coquese Washington announced the hiring Tuesday, a day after adding former Rutgers star Tasha Pointer as an assistant coach.

McCray-Penson has 15 years of college coaching experience, most recently as head coach at Mississippi State and Old Dominion. She played nine seasons in the WNBA and won gold medals with Team USA at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics.

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“Simply put, Nikki is a winner,” Washington said of her former Indiana Fever teammate from 2002-03. “She has excelled at the highest levels of our game. Her experience as a college All-American, a WNBA All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist, and her national championship-caliber coaching pedigree provides us with tremendous knowledge and wisdom.”

Nikki McCray-Penson has been hired by Rutgers as an assistant women basketball coach

Nikki McCray-Penson has been hired by Rutgers as an assistant women basketball coach (Photo by Darrell Walker/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

McCray-Penson has won championships at all levels. Besides the Olympics, she was an assistant when South Carolina won the national championship in 2017 and led the Columbus Quest to the 1997 ABL Championship. In college, she helped Tennessee win three SEC regular-season championships, two SEC Tournament titles, and make a Final Four appearance in 1995.

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McCray-Penson was named best defensive player for Tennessee in each of her four years.

After two straight 20-win seasons at Old Dominon, she left to become the head coach at Mississippi State in 2020-21. She coached the Bulldogs to 10 wins before stepping down after one season to focus on her health.

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McCray-Penson also served as head coach at Western Kentucky.

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