USC’s Staley, McCray enter women’s hoops hall of fame

University of South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley and assistant coach Nikki McCray will be among the six inductees to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2012 on Sat., June 9, in Knoxville, Tenn.

The evening’s formal induction ceremony at the Bijou Theatre concludes the weekend of events surrounding the 14th annual Hall of Fame Induction. Both Staley and McCray will be introduced by their college coaches, Debbie Ryan and Pat Summitt, respectively.

Staley and McCray are two of the four players being inducted this weekend as Pamela McGee and Inge Nissen join them in that category. Nancy Fahey is part of the class for her illustrious coaching career, and Robin Roberts rounds out the class as a contributor. The weekend activities begin on Fri., June 8, with a private inductee welcome event at the women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Women’s basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli will host a storytelling session for the attendees, and the Class of 2012 exhibits in the Hall of Honor will be officially unveiled. Each member of the Class of 2012 will receive a diamond Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame pin and a commemorative autographed basketball during a special presentation.

Saturday’s events begin with the Fourth Annual 4Kay┬« Run/Walk, held in honor of the late Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer and NC State coach Kay Yow. After an awards presentation for the run/walk, the Class of 2012 will hold an autograph session at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame north rotunda. Antonelli will host the Induction ceremony, after which there will be a Post-Induction Celebration and Silent Auction at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame at 9 p.m. All proceeds for the silent auction will benefit the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Inducted in her first year of eligibility, Staley is an iconic figure in international women’s basketball, arguably the best point guard the game has seen. After earning USA Today National High School Player of the Year honors, she went on to a stellar career at the University of Virginia. A three-time Kodak All-American, Staley was the Sports Illustrated Player of the Year and won the Honda-Broderick Cup Award for Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year in 1991 after leading her Cavaliers to the national championship game. She played in three NCAA Final Fours and was twice the ACC Player of the Year. On the international stage, Staley continued to excel and was part of the United States’ last four Olympic gold medals – three as a player (1996, 2000, 2004) and one as an assistant coach (2008). Twice named USA Basketball’s Female Athlete of the Year (1994, 2004), she was selected by her fellow Olympians from all sports to carry the flag in the 2004 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. Following the success of the 1996 Olympic team, Staley joined one of the two fledgling professional leagues in the U.S., playing with the Richmond (later relocated to Philadelphia) Rage of the ABL for two seasons, earning All-Star status both years. After joining the WNBA in 1999, Staley garnered five All-Star selections, twice earned the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award and was named to the All-Decade Team and to the WNBA’s Top 15 as one of the most influential players in the league’s first 15 years. After her retirement in 2006, the league began awarding the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in 2007.

Also a first-ballot selection, McCray made her mark on women’s basketball with an All-America career at the University of Tennessee. She earned Kodak and Naismith All-America honors and was the SEC Player of the Year in both her junior and senior seasons. Upon graduation, McCray immediately reported to USA Basketball and was an integral part in the 1996 Olympic gold medal team. She captured her second gold medal with the 2000 squad. Like Staley, McCray kicked off her professional career in the ABL, leading the Columbus Quest to the league’s first championship, earning MVP honors along the way. She transitioned to the WNBA in 1998 and was a three-time All-Star for the Washington Mystics. McCray retired from the league following the 2006 season to begin her coaching career.

At South Carolina, Staley and McCray have helped the Gamecocks improve steadily since their arrival for the 2008-09 season. The team finished the 2011-12 season in the NCAA Sweet 16 with a 25-10 record that included a 10-6 mark in SEC action. It was the program’s best record both overall and in league play since 2001-02.

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