Gray announces retirement as ICC women’s basketball coach

Itawamba Community College (MS) Head Women’s Basketball Coach Nanci Gray announced her retirement from coaching in a press conference at the Davis Event Center Thursday.

Gray, a former player at then IJC, spent 13 seasons as the Lady Indians’ head coach. She accumulated a record of 250 wins and 101 losses. She won seven Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC) North Division titles (2007-08, 08-09, 11-12, 14-15, 15-16, 16-17, 18-19), two MACJC championships (07-08, 11-12) and three National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 23 championships (12-13, 14-15, 15-16) while making three NJCAA National Tournament appearances in Salina, Kan. (12-13, 14-15) and Lubbock, TX (15-16).

She was named NJCAA Region 23 Coach of the Year three times (12-13, 14-15, 15-16) and was twice named MACJC Coach of the Year (07-08, 11-12). Gray coached two NJCAA All-Americans, Jameika Hoskins (Aberdeen) and Jayla Chills (Ripley).

As a player, Gray played a significant role in laying the foundation for the future success of the Lady Indians’ basketball program.

During the 1974-75 season, Gray helped IJC win the state and regional championships and advance to the NJCAA National Tournament in Vincennes, Indiana. That season, she was named All-American honorable mention. The following season, Gray and her teammates earned a runner-up finish in the conference tournament.

Her high school coaching career spans 17 years and includes stops at Houlka (79-88), Bruce (88-97) and Tupelo (97-06) high schools with 10 additional years’ coaching junior high basketball and working as an assistant coach on the high school level.

Gray was named Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal Coach of the Year three times (98-99, 00-01, 04-05) while at Tupelo. She guided Bruce to the semifinals of the Class 2A state tournament (96-97), won the Class 5A state championship (00-01) and advanced to the 5A semifinals in back-to-back seasons (03-04, 04-05) at Tupelo.

Gray finishes her coaching career with 696 wins and 213 losses in 30 seasons as a high school and college head coach. In her combined 40-year coaching career, she has easily surpassed the 800-win plateau. She coached a Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year and High School All-American with players earned SEC Freshman of the Year, All-SEC, NJCAA All-American, NJCAA Academic All-American honors with two players playing in the WNBA. Other career achievements include: Special Olympic Coach (79-93); Special Olympics International Games at Notre Dame (87) and Minneapolis/St. Paul (91); 1998 ICC Athletic Hall of Fame inductee; featured by the Lee County Courier “Women of the 90’s” (00); and Teach of Distinction at Tupelo High School (04).

She lettered in basketball for four years at Houlka and helped lead the Lady Wildcats to a state runner-up finish and earned Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC) All-State in 1972 and was named to the MAC All-Star team in 1974.

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