MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - According to former Collierville High School girls basketball coach Joe Brock, Nikki McCray-Penson, "Only knows one thing and that’s how to win.”
Before McCray even started Freshman year in high school, Joe Brock said she had a reputation.
“You don’t put her in a team setting, you put the team around her,” Brock said.
Brock said McCray was the most talented player he saw play. He called her the best female athlete all time in Tennessee.
“She’s the hardest working person I’ve ever known, as far as basketball,” Brock reflected. “She’d get through with practice and go to the community center and practice over there. She’d play constantly.”
That landed her at Tennessee playing for the legendary, Pat Summitt. She was named a two time All-American and two time SEC Player of the Year. She then made her mark in the pros as a three time WNBA All-Star. Plus, winning two Olympic gold medals.
“What she has become as a person, such a leader and a hard working person,” Brock said. “Those girls at Mississippi State, they’ll have to work. I know they’re probably used to working, but they will have to work, she will work them hard because she doesn’t believe in losing.”
During her first head coaching job at Old Dominion, McCray turned a program around to two 20 win seasons and was named Conference USA Coach of the Year. Now, she’s running a program in the SEC.
“I grew up in Collierville, Tennessee. Not too far from Starkville, so I’m very familiar with this region," McCray said in her introductory press conference. “The relationships that I still have in Tennessee, coupled with the relationships I formed with players, coaches, fans and sponsors throughout the SEC is deeply rooted in my DNA.”
Brock knew she had what it took to be great, that’s also in her DNA. It touches his heart knowing that he’s been able to see her succeed at every level.
“When young teenagers grow up and progress and mature and become such wonderful human beings, that’s so heartwarming. That really makes your heart feel good,” Brock said.