Wanika Owsley has been a part of success at every level.
Now Owsley hopes she can help the Mississippi State women”s basketball team build on its best season.
Coach Sharon Fanning-Otis announced Tuesday the hiring of Owsley as an assistant coach. Owsley replaces Sharrona Reaves, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Lady Bulldogs.
Owsley comes to MSU after one season at Morgan State, where she was an assistant coach. She helped lead the Lady Bears to a 22-13 finish and a school-best third-place finish in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
“She is a bright, young, energetic coach who has great people skills, communicates well, and knows the game well from being a coach on the floor,” said Fanning-Otis, who has gotten to know Owsley on the recruiting trail the past four seasons. “I think she has a real passion for the game.”
Prior to coaching at Morgan State, Owsley spent three years as a top assistant coach at Jefferson (Mo.) Community College. Owsley helped lead the team to a 97-9 record in that time. She also recruited one national junior college player of the year and four All-Americans. Two of the teams were academic teams of the year, which included six academic All-Americans.
Fanning-Otis said that understanding of the balance of academics and athletics was a key component of Owsley”s makeup.
Owsley also coached three Jefferson (Mo.) C.C. players — Elyseia Dunn, Porsha Porter, and Ashley Brown — who will join the MSU women”s basketball program for the 2010-11 season.
Owsley, a native of Indianapolis, played two years at Southeast Missouri State, where she helped the Lady Redhawks to a 46-16 overall record and their first NCAA tournament appearance in her senior season. She played for current MSU assistant coach Franqua Bedell at Southeast Missouri State.
Owsley also played two years at Southeastern Illinois (Junior) College for current MSU assistant coach Greg Franklin. She helped lead her team to its first Region 24 championship and an appearance in the NJCAA National Tournament. As a point guard, she was the captain and led both teams in assists.
“Wanika is a very good listener,” Fanning-Otis said. “She takes direction and runs with it and knows the price tag to be successful in this league is very expensive. She has very high aspirations.”
Fanning-Otis said she could have hired any of the three candidates she interviewed for the position. She said there was a large pool of candidates with some great applicants who had solid experience, but she said Owsley seemed to be the best fit at this time. She is confident the relationships Owsley built with the players at Jefferson (Mo.) C.C. and the current MSU coaches will help ease her transition to Starkville. She also praised the work of Reaves and her contributions to the program, especially this past season when the Lady Bulldogs went 22-13 and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament for the first time.
“We appreciate coach Reaves and the hard work and dedication she gave to our program,” Fanning-Otis said. “We thank her for being a part of two very successful teams, and she was a key part of that success.
“Wanika is a winner with a passion to excel. She learns quickly and is dedicated to success. Her ability to recruit, her knowledge of the game, and her familiarity with our players and staff will be a great fit for the Mississippi State women”s basketball program.”
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.