Harris joins Lady Bulldogs hoops staff


Johnnie Harris

Mississippi State women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer has started forming his coaching staff with a familiar face, as Texas A&M assistant coach Johnnie Harris is joining the Lady Bulldogs as associate head coach.

Harris served as the Aggies' special teams coach, tutoring the squads on in-bounds, sideline and free-throw plays. She helped guide Texas A&M to four Sweet 16 appearances in her five seasons, including the program's first national championship in 2010-11.

"I am excited about Coach Harris and what she brings to the table. She has tremendous respect in the coaching community. Not only is she an outstanding recruiter, but she sees the game in the same light as I do. She knows how we will want things done, and this will allow her to be involved in the day-to-day operations of our program," Schaefer said. "We have sat on the bench together the past five years, and I know she will be a tremendous asset on our bench here at Mississippi State University."

During her tenure in College Station, Harris helped sign and tutor junior college All-Americans Danielle Adams and Tanisha Smith. Adams earned MVP of the 2011 Final Four before going on to be drafted 20th by the San Antonio Silver Stars of the WNBA. Adams was tabbed to the league's all-star game in her inaugural season.

With Harris' guidance, Smith earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and conference all-tournament honors in 2009. The Seattle Storm selected Smith with the 22nd pick in the 2010 WNBA Draft.

Heralded as one of the nation's premier recruiters, Harris has been an integral part of Texas A&M signing classes that have rated in the top 20 nationally.

She helped the Aggies land the nation's No. 2 class this past year. That class included a pair of McDonald's All-Americans in Jordan Jones and Courtney Williams. TAMU's 2010 class, which included McDonald's All-American and the nation's top post player Karla Gilbert, rated third nationally. The two years prior she helped notch the nation's fifth- and sixth-rated classes.

"I am excited for the opportunity to be the associate head coach at Mississippi State," Harris said. "I have worked alongside Coach Schaefer for five years, and I fully believe in his determination to building a championship program here at Mississippi State. We are ready to get to work achieving our goal of bringing championships to Mississippi State!"

Harris played a key role in signing the major players in Texas A&M's national championship team that claimed a school-best 33 victories.

Prior to her stop in College Station, Harris spent three seasons at Arkansas, helping land some of the Lady Razorbacks' top recruiting classes. She signed Laura Ervin, a junior college All-American who went on to garner Second Team All-SEC accolades, as well as Freshman All-SEC selection Donica Cosby.

In 2007, she inked Gatorade players of the year Whitney Zachariason (Arkansas) and Morgan Boyd (Kansas) as Arkansas finished with one of the nation's top-40 classes. Harris also recruited one of the top five point guards in the nation in Shanita Arnold.

Harris has had the opportunity to learn from some of the game's top coaches, including Hall of Famer Kay Yow at North Carolina State. She joined the program in the 2003-04 season and immediately helped the squad to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in two years.

Harris and her fellow coaches helped N.C. State sign JUCO player of the year Tiffany Stansbury, who went on to play with the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx.

Her first recruiting class in Raleigh was rated as one of the best in the nation. She also garnered a commitment from Gillian Goring, the nation's No. 1 post player who went on to play for the Washington Mystics.

Harris also served as assistant coach at Arkansas-Fort Smith, where she helped bring in key players who led the school to the NJCAA Final Four in 2004. In two seasons coaching under Louis Whorton, she inked the nation's No. 1 class and helped the Lady Lions to a 34-8 record. UAFS' 2002-03 team went 26-2 and won a share of the Bi-State Conference championship.

The Arkansas-Fort Smith position kept the Pine Bluff native in her home state after she started her coaching career as a graduate assistant at Arkansas-Little Rock. Her hard work at UALR earned her a promotion to full-time assistant in 2000.

Harris also coached AAU hoops with the Arkansas Kamikaze.

She began her playing career at Arkansas-Pine Bluff before transferring to Arkansas Baptist for her final two seasons. She is the mother of two children, Marcus and Kiera. She also has a granddaughter, Samarah.

For additional information about Mississippi State athletics, please visit www.HailState.com.

Return to Memo

Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: April 16, 2012Facebook Twitter