Nikki McCray-Penson
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
PositionAssistant Coach
Personal information
Born (1971-12-17) December 17, 1971 (age 50)
Collierville, Tennessee
Listed height5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Listed weight158 lb (72 kg)
Career information
High schoolCollierville
(Collierville, Tennessee)
CollegeTennessee (1991–1995)
Playing career1996–2006
PositionPoint guard
Coaching career2006–present
Career history
As player:
1996–1997Columbus Quest
19982001Washington Mystics
20022003Indiana Fever
2004Phoenix Mercury
2005San Antonio Stars
2006Chicago Sky
As coach:
2006–2008Western Kentucky (assistant)
2008–2017South Carolina (assistant)
2017–2020Old Dominion
2020–2021Mississippi State
2022-PresentRutgers (assistant)
Career highlights and awards
As coach:
  • C-USA Coach of the Year (2020)

As player:

Stats at
Stats at
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame

Nikki Kesangane McCray-Penson (born December 17, 1971) is the former head coach of the Mississippi State Bulldogs women's basketball team[1] and a former professional women's basketball player. She played in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) for eight seasons. In 2008 after leaving the WNBA, McCray joined the coaching staff as an assistant coach for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.[2] McCray-Penson was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.

Playing career

A 5-foot-11-inch (1.80 m) guard from the University of Tennessee, McCray was a member of the Washington Mystics, the Indiana Fever, the Phoenix Mercury, the San Antonio Silver Stars, and the Chicago Sky. She was named to three WNBA All-Star teams (in 1999, 2000, and 2001) and scored 2,550 career points. Prior to joining the WNBA in 1998, she was a star in the now-defunct American Basketball League. While playing in the American Basketball League, McCray was named Most Valuable Player for the 1996–97 season.

McCray has also played basketball at the international level. She won gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics, and she participated on America's 1998 FIBA World Championship team.[3] She made a name for herself in women's basketball as a world class defender by shutting down a number of the world's best players.

In 2000, she was named a member of the President's Fitness Council,[4] and was also chosen for the 2000 USA Olympic basketball team.

Coaching career

Previously McCray was an assistant coach at University of South Carolina. She made a new home for herself at the University of South Carolina with a former teammate as head coach, Dawn Staley. Staley said about McCray: "Nikki is hungry for success, and that comes from playing at Tennessee where the coach never settles for anything less than being number one at whatever she's doing. That mentality is instilled in Nikki, and I want people around me like that. She is energetic, confident and engaging – all qualities that you need when you're coaching and recruiting. We spent two Olympic Games together and have shared being successful in the very best arena there is to test yourself."[2] She resigned as head coach at Mississippi State in October, 2021 citing health reasons.[5]

Other work

In addition to her career on the court, McCray also created a name for herself in the realm of community service. In the year 2000 Nikki McCray was hand-picked by President Bill Clinton to be made a member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

In 1999 The Library of Congress selected Nikki McCray to be the keynote speaker for the Women's History Month Address. "We are pleased to have Ms. McCray with us to kick-off our month long celebration of women's history," said Federal Women's Program Manager Jean Parker. "As an employee of the first women's professional basketball team in the nation's capital and through her community service, Ms. McCray is a wonderful role model for young people."[6]

Tennessee statistics


  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Year Team GP Points FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1992 Tennessee 31 215 50.0% 20.0% 73.6% 3.7 0.8 1.9 0.0 6.9
1993 Tennessee 32 349 46.5% 0% 72.2% 4.5 1.9 2.7 0.1 10.9
1994 Tennessee 33 537 50.6% 0% 70.3% 7.0 2.5 2.5 0.1 16.3
1995 Tennessee 31 471 49.2% 13.3% 68.0% 5.9 2.6 2.0 0.1 15.2
Career 127 1572 49.2% 16.0% 70.5% 5.3 2.0 2.3 0.1 12.4

Head coaching record

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Old Dominion Lady Monarchs (Conference USA) (2017–2020)
2017–18 Old Dominion 8–23 6–10 12th
2018–19 Old Dominion 21–10 10–6 5th WNIT First Round
2019–20 Old Dominion 24–6 14–4 2nd Postseason not held
Old Dominion: 53–39 (.576) 30–20 (.600)
Mississippi State Bulldogs (Southeastern Conference) (2020–2021)
2020–21 Mississippi State 10–9 5–7 9th
Mississippi State: 10–9 (.526) 5–7 (.417)
Total: 63–48 (.568)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ Robb, Courtney (April 9, 2020). "MISSISSIPPI STATE TO NAME NIKKI MCCRAY-PENSON WOMEN'S HEAD BASKETBALL COACH". Retrieved April 9, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Player Bio: Nikki McCray – South Carolina Gamecocks Archived January 23, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, 2012.
  3. ^ Savage, Lorraine. "McCray, Nikki." Notable Sports Figures. 2004. January 26, 2012.
  4. ^ "WNBA's Nikki McCray Named to President's Council on Fitness.", Jet February 28, 2000: 50.Google Books. Web. January 30, 2012.
  5. ^ "Mississippi State's McCray-Penson steps down". October 12, 2021. Retrieved October 20, 2021.
  6. ^ Fischer, Audrey. "Nikki McCray Speaks March 3 – News Releases (Library of Congress)". Library of Congress Home. Library of Congress, February 23, 1999. Web. February 1, 2012.
  7. ^ "Women's Basketball Finest" (PDF). Retrieved October 2, 2017.