Nikki McCray-Penson, who played for Tennessee and a former Mississippi State head coach, has passed away at the age of 51 years old.
It is believed McCray-Pension passed after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She first was diagnosed in 2013 and thought she had beat the cancer. Sadly, she stepped down from her position at Mississippi State back in 2021 citing “health concerns” as the reason behind her decision.
McCray-Penson was the two-time SEC Player of the Year at Tennessee (1994 & 1995). She also coached for 16 years with stops at South Carolina (assistant), Rutgers (assistant), Western Kentucky (assistant) as well as head coach for Mississippi State and Old Dominion.
Before coaching, McCray-Penson was a star in the WNBA (Washington Mystics) after playing for nine seasons. She finished her career as a three-time WNBA All-Star, scored 2,550 points and averaged 14.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Furthermore, she also played two seasons in the ABL where she won league MVP and a championship in the ABL with the Columbus Quest.
The former Lady Vol led Tennessee to three SEC regular season championships, plus two SEC Tournament titles and a Final Four appearance in 1995. McCray-Penson was a two-time All-American.
She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.