The first two years as head coach of Mississippi’s women’s basketball team have been laborious for Yolett McPhee–McCuin. But fortunes appear to be turning around in Oxford, Miss.
Former Colonial Forge and James Monroe standout Shakira Austin announced on Twitter Wednesday night that she’s transferring to Ole Miss after two impactful seasons at the University of Maryland.
The Rebels have gone 16–45 overall and 3–29 in Southeastern Conference play (0–16 in 2019–20) under McPhee–McCuin.
But she signed the No. 1 recruiting class in the SEC last November, including the first McDonald’s All-American in school history in 6-foot-1 forward Madison Scott. The Rebels have also added talented junior college transfer guard Tiya Douglas since the end of the season.
When reached via text message Wednesday, Austin declined to comment on her decision. She tweeted “what’s understood, don’t need an explanation” when she announced her decision.
A week ago, Ole Miss also hired former Maryland assistant coach Shay Robinson, who served under head coach Brenda Frese since 2014.
Ole Miss officially announced Austin's signing Thursday afternoon.
"I believe that in order to compete at this level, you have to have pros on your roster, and Shakira is that," McPhee-McCuin told the school's website. "She is a hybrid forward that has guard skills who will only get better during her time here at Ole Miss.
Austin will have two years of eligibility remaining at Ole Miss. NCAA rules mandate she sits out next season unless she’s granted a waiver.
Austin entered the NCAA’s transfer portal last month as COVID-19 concerns gripped the nation and canceled postseason play. She was unable to visit Ole Miss before orally committing.
Unlike the Rebels’ other incoming prospects, Austin is already established at the major college level.
The 6-foot-5 forward was a second-team all-Big Ten selection last season as she averaged 12 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. She recorded 57 steals and 41 blocked shots. She helped lead Maryland to conference regular season and tournament titles.
As a freshman, she set the school single-season blocked shots record with 89. She was named to the Naismith Defensive Player of the watch list her freshman season and was named conference freshman of the week five times. At the end of the season she received all-conference defensive team and all-freshman team recognition. League coaches named her honorable mention all-conference.
"At 6-5 she can guard any position defensively, and offensively the variety of ways she will be able to score will be unmatched," McPhee-McCuin said. "The addition of Kira along with the rest of our signees has put us in a position to compete at a high level instantaneously. To say we're excited to have her would be an understatement. The city of Oxford will want to get behind this team now and for years to come."
Austin was a McDonald’s All-American and ranked No. 4 overall in her class by ESPN.com. She played her freshman season at JM before transferring to Colonial Forge for her sophomore and junior campaigns. She helped lead the Eagles to the Class 6 state championship in 2017 before finishing her career at Riverdale Baptist, a private school in Upper Marlboro, Md.
Taft Coghill Jr: 540/374-5526