David Cloninger

Report: USC women’s assistant a possibility for Vandy job

Assistant coach Nikki McCray-Penson has been mentioned in a report on Vanderbilt’s coaching opening.
Assistant coach Nikki McCray-Penson has been mentioned in a report on Vanderbilt’s coaching opening. Tracy Glantz

South Carolina women’s basketball assistant coach Nikki McCray-Penson was mentioned as a potential candidate for Vanderbilt’s open head coach position in a Thursday report from The Tennesseean. McCray-Penson said she has not been contacted by the Commodores or anyone else.

“No one has contacted me from Vanderbilt,” she said during a day honoring the Gamecocks at the S.C. Statehouse.

Vanderbilt parted ways with all-time winningest coach Melanie Balcomb earlier this week. The Tennesseean’s Adam Sparks compiled a list of 10 candidates that have in-state ties, and McCray-Penson was on it.

A native of Collierville, Tenn., McCray-Penson was a two-time SEC Player of the Year at Tennessee. After winning two Olympic gold medals and becoming a three-time All-Star in the WNBA, McCray-Penson spent two seasons as an assistant at Western Kentucky before joining Dawn Staley’s inaugural staff at USC.

She’s been a vital part of the Gamecocks becoming the SEC’s top program and said that head coaching is definitely something that she wants to do someday.

“Head coaching is something that’s down the pipeline for me,” McCray-Penson said. “Coach Staley is doing a great job of preparing me for that, with scouting, recruiting. There are some other things I still have to continue to get underneath my belt, but if the opportunity presents itself, it’s got to be the right fit as always for me and my family. But on that situation, nothing has come about.”

The rest of the list included current SEC coaches Nikki Fargas (LSU) and Matt Insell (Ole Miss), as well as Insell’s father, Rick Insell, the coach at Middle Tennessee. ESPN analyst Carolyn Peck, who played at Vanderbilt and coached a national champion at Purdue, was also mentioned.

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