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Basketball Archives - News and Events

Statesman LaQuavius Cotton is still flying high after his victory in the 2015 State Farm College Dunk Championship. Photo by Rory Doyle.

Cotton’s dunks rule the land

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Small school — big hops. That’s what some college basketball fans were saying after Statesman senior LaQuavius Cotton brought down the house at the 2015 State Farm College Dunk Championship April 2.

In front of a rocking crowd at Hinkle Fieldhouse — home court for Butler University in Indianapolis, Ind. — and broadcasted for millions to see on ESPN, the 6-foot-6 Cotton showed the world that some of the nation’s best athletes perform right here in “small-town” Cleveland, Miss.

Cotton, born and raised in Cleveland, is a 2010 East Side High School graduate and senior transfer from Mississippi College. The talented player with humble roots overcame the nerves of the big stage and shined bright in front of a national audience.

“Walking into that gym was crazy,” said Cotton, “I didn’t know it was that big, and being in that atmosphere with some of the guys I saw playing on TV a couple weeks ago — it was shocking. To be in the dunk contest period was a blessing.”

Through a combination of scores from three highly competitive rounds, Cotton’s performance reigned supreme, and he was handed the 2015 championship belt.

“Going into it, I was just happy to be there,” he said. “I told myself I’d be happy just to make it out of the first round. Once I got to the second round, I thought man, I’ve got a chance at winning this, so I’m going to try and take it.

“Winning it all was truly something special. Words can’t explain how it felt to take the championship, but it was amazing.”

Delta State men’s basketball coach Jim Boone was thrilled to see his player dominate the competition.

“We are all so excited for LaQuavius, and to win it all, wow,” said Boone.  “I am so proud of how he represented our basketball program, his family and all of our Delta State family. He is a tremendous young man who has worked very hard to develop his game.”

His invite to the big show, which included competitors from all three NCAA divisions, came after HoopMixTape.com caught wind of a YouTube video Cotton posted of his dunking ability.

“My video really picked up some buzz when Hoop Mix Tape shouted me out on Twitter and Instagram. They got in contact with some people in charge of the dunk contest, and that’s what got me the invite.”

Cotton said one of the highlights of the experience was having his parents in the crowd. His father, Leroy, is the athletic director, assistant principal and basketball coach for East Side.

“My dad was my high school coach and he’s worked with me on fundamentals and dunking,” said Cotton. “He prepped me for the contest. I actually called him during the contest after a couple dunks to see what I should do next.”

The victory has brought the champion a swarm of unexpected attention, from calls from a few agents and contacts from multiple oversees teams.

“This opportunity means a lot to me, and I hope it opens some doors for my future in basketball. It’s definitely helped with exposure for me. Probably the coolest thing that’s happened since I won was another shout out from Hoop Mix Tape and a bio page they created for me.”

Despite the instant fame, Cotton is remaining true to his roots.

“I just want to say thanks to Delta State,” he said. “To the whole university really — faculty, staff, coaches, the compliance office – everyone really helped me out with this and throughout the year.”

So what’s next for the high flyer?

“It’s hard that my senior year is done. It came to an end really fast, but I’ve really enjoyed playing at Delta State with all my teammates,” said Cotton. “Now it’s time to work on my overall game, find an agent and get ready to play professionally.

“I think the dunking is a little behind me for now — until next time, hopefully.”

Follow all Statesmen and Lady Statesman athletics at http://www.gostatesmen.com.

Delta State University will honor legendary Lady Statesmen basketball coach Margaret Wade with a statue dedication Nov. 14 at 2 p.m.

Wade statue dedication planned for Nov. 14

By | Alumni, Archives and Museum, Athletics | No Comments

Margaret Wade’s impact on women’s collegiate athletics and the game of basketball is immeasurable. On Nov. 14 at 2 p.m., Delta State University and the Department of Athletics will dedicate a statue in honor of Wade’s indelible legacy.
 
“No single individual has had a larger impact on women’s athletics, especially in Mississippi, than coach Margaret Wade,” said Ronnie Mayers, director of athletics. “Her legacy lives on today through the countless young women who have the opportunity to participate and enjoy competitive sports.”
 
The dedication ceremony will take place at the West Plaza of Kent Wyatt Hall. Delta State President William N. LaForge will host the event, which features former presidents Dr. Kent Wyatt and Dr. Aubrey Lucas, and former Ole Miss and WNBA head coach Van Chancellor. A reception will follow the ceremony in the Leroy Morganti Atrium of Kent Wyatt Hall.
 
Wade served as head coach of the Lady Statesmen from 1973-79, leading Delta State to three consecutive AIAW National Championships from 1974-75 through 1976-77. During that time, Wade amassed a remarkable 157-23 record and helped pave the way for future female head coaches like Pat Summitt to excel in the sport they love.
 
“Her first four years back in coaching have been called one of the most amazing accomplishments in sports history,” said Langston Rogers, former Delta State and Ole Miss sports information director.
 
During those four years, Delta State went from having no team at all to Wade leading the Lady Statesmen to a 109-6 record and the three titles.
 
Wade received numerous awards during her career, including AIAW National Coach of the Year; Kellogg’s Mississippi Coach of the Year; and following her retirement, the title of “Mother of Modern Collegiate Basketball” was bestowed her by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. 

In addition to being the most recognizable name in women’s college basketball in Mississippi, the WBCA named its player of the year award after the Mississippi Delta legend. The “Lily Margaret Wade Trophy” is annually awarded to the nation’s top women’s basketball player in the NCAA. In 1978, Wade awarded the first-ever trophy to Montclair State guard Carol Blazejowski. 
 
In 1986, the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame made Wade the first female inductee and first female head coach to be enshrined into the hall. She is also a member of the Delta State University Sports Hall of Fame, Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
 
A year-by-year breakdown of Wade’s career and her accomplishments at Delta State is listed below:
 
MARGARET WADE’S DELTA STATE YEAR-BY-YEAR RECORD:
1973-74: 16-2
1974-75: 28-0 / AIAW National Champions 
1975-76: 33-1 / AIAW National Champions 
1976-77: 32-3 / AIAW National Champions 
1977-78: 27-5
1978-79: 21-12
Totals: 157-23 (.872)

CAREER ACCOLADES:
1975 – AIAW National Champions
1975 – Inducted into MS Sports Hall of Fame
1976 – AIAW National Champions
1977 – AIAW National Champions
1977 – Kellogg’s National Coach of the Year
1978 – Wade Trophy established by WBCA
1986 – Inducted into Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame

2014 Delta State honorary doctorate recipient, and Lady Statesmen basketball legend, Lusia "Lucy" Harris-Stewart.

Harris-Stewart receives honorary doctorate

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While her list of accomplishments is already lengthy, Lady Statesmen basketball legend Lusia “Lucy” Harris-Stewart added another milestone to her résumé at Delta State University’s spring commencement ceremony today.

Harris-Stewart was granted an honorary doctoral degree as part of Delta State’s long-running tradition of recognizing green and white greatness.

Delta State University confers the honorary degree to individuals who have made significant and meritorious contributions to the university, higher education generally or other areas of society. Achievements can include, but are not limited to, outstanding creative and scholarly work, distinguished leadership or service, significant accomplishments or exceptional philanthropic support.

“I’m very honored to be receiving this degree — very, very honored,” said Harris-Stewart. “I’m looking forward to having the chance now to visit with fans, teammates and all of my family.

“Delta State has certainly been a learning experience for me. It’s given me the chance to do a lot of things and travel to a lot of places. Through basketball, I’ve been able to travel internationally.”

Harris-Stewart, a native of Minter City, Miss., graduated from Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood. She received a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in health, physical education and recreation in 1977 and a master’s degree in education in 1984, both from Delta State.

While Harris-Stewart proved her academic abilities in the classroom, her international distinction comes from her career accomplishments on the court. Considered one of the greatest centers to ever play women’s basketball, she was relentless and dominating in her style of play.

She is also considered one of the pioneers of women’s basketball, winning three consecutive national championships at Delta State under Hall of Fame coach Margaret Wade. She also holds the distinctions of scoring the first ever points in women’s Olympic basketball history, and being the first woman to be officially drafted by a team in the National Basketball Association.

“I have a lot of memories at Delta State,” she said. “One of the highlights was playing in a game at Madison Square Garden. I think it was the first time a Mississippi team played there. It was a very unique opportunity to travel to New York and play in the Big Apple.”

After graduating, Harris-Stewart served as an admissions counselor and assistant basketball coach. She also had a two-year stint as head coach at Texas Southern University in Houston. Upon returning to her native Mississippi, she worked as a high school teacher and coach.

For her achievements and contributions to Delta State University, Harris-Stewart was inducted into Delta State University’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1992, she became one of the first two women ever inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. She also became the first African-American woman inductee.

In 1998, Harris-Stewart, along with Coach Wade and her teammates on the national team, were named among the 26 inaugural inductees to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn. She has also been named to the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Her career has brought her literally around the world, providing opportunities never imagined growing up in small-town Mississippi.

“I encourage the students of Delta State to continue to dream,” she said. “Dreams come true if you work hard. I learned that at Delta State. I want to say a big thank you for this honorary degree. I’m very honored by this prestigious recognition.”

The Delta State University Alumni Association hosted the annual Bolivar County Alumni Night at Walter Sillers Coliseum on Feb. 27.

Bolivar County Alumni Night a success

By | Alumni, Athletics, Community | No Comments

The Delta State University Alumni Association, along with the Bolivar County Alumni Chapter,  hosted the annual Bolivar County Alumni Night at Walter Sillers Coliseum on Feb. 27. The event began prior to the Lady Statesmen and Statesmen home basketball games.

All alumni who updated their information with the Alumni Association received free admission into the games and had their name put into a drawing for a free night’s stay at The Alluvian in Greenwood. Active alumni members had their names put in the drawing twice. Ben Bailey ’91 was the winning name drawn.

The night fared well for both the Statesmen and Lady Statesmen with victories over Valdosta State University.

The event also served as the formal announcement of Go Green Weekend, a collaboration between various university departments, which will be held April 3-5. The weekend will include a cook team competition, Delta Duathlon, Springfest, a Recruiting Day, Bolivar County Alumni Crawfish Boil and several athletic events. For more information, visit www.deltastategiving.org/alumniassociation/gogreenweekend.

To stay up to date with Alumni Association’s activities, follow these social media sites: Facebook (Statesmen Graduates), Twitter (@DSU_Alumni), Tumblr (www.dsualumni.tumblr.com), LinkedIn (DSU alumni), Instagram (dsualumni) and You Tube (dsualumni1).