South Carolina women's basketball assistant coachNikki McCray announced today that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.She has begun treatment and will continue to coach through the season, aspossible. McCray learned of the diagnosis in November, and doctors indicatethat it is treatable.
"This will definitely be a challenge, but I am getting prepared to fight andwin this battle," McCray said. "We are a close family here at South Carolina,and I will draw my strength from God, my family and friends, our team, ourstaff and the fans. I am thankful for everyone's continued to support."
"When Nikki called me with the unexpected news, my immediate reaction was tobecome the best supporter for her through this process," South Carolina headcoach Dawn Staley said. "Family is important to us, and we all have embracedNikki's diagnosis with that mindset and providing her with all the moral andphysical support she needs. Our ‘Play 4 Kay' game will definitely have an evenmore personal meaning for us this year."
In her sixth season on the Gamecocks' sideline, McCray has helped the programto back-to-back 25-win seasons and a spot in the national polls throughout the2013-14 campaign. Her work with the guards has helped four of them earn All-SEChonors in the last four seasons, including 2013 SEC Defensive Player of theYear Ieasia Walker.
McCray enjoyed a professional playing career that included two Olympic goldmedals and three WNBA All-Star selections in her nine seasons in the league. Inher four seasons at Tennessee, she was a two-time All-American and earned SECPlayer of the Year honors her junior and senior seasons as well. McCray waspart of three SEC regular-season championships, two conference tournamenttitles and four NCAA Tournament appearances for the Lady Vols.
McCray and her husband, Thomas Penson, have a son, Thomas Nikson Penson, bornFeb. 1, 2013.