Mississippi State to hire Sam Purcell as next women's basketball coach – 247Sports

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10 years ago, Mississippi State went after an assistant coach to lead its women’s basketball program and were led to new heights by Vic Schaefer and the Bulldogs are hoping to strike gold again from an assistant.
The University announced on Saturday that Louisville Associate Coach Sam Purcell to be its next women’s basketball coach. Purcell comes to Starkville after being a part of Jeff Walz staff for the last decade. 
“During our search, Sam Purcell routinely emerged as one of the nation’s elite recruiters and more importantly, a terrific fit to lead our program,” Director of Athletics John Cohen said in a release. “Sam has been an integral part of some of the most successful teams in women’s basketball. He is creative, meticulous, and has shown a proven ability to recruit the nation’s top talent and develop student-athletes. Sam is synonymous with the Mississippi State culture and understands the deep meaning of family. We are confident that Sam will elevate every facet of our program. We are pleased to welcome him, his wife Meghan, and his three daughters Reese, Rylee and Reagan to the Mississippi State family.”
A native of the south from Dalton, Ga., Purcell has been known as a major part of what Walz has built in Louisville. In his nine years with the Cardinals, Purcell has been a part of a program that has gone 262-47. During that time Louisville has gone to the Sweet 16 six times, made three Elite Eight appearances and went to the Final Four in 2018 when they went head-to-head with MSU and came up short for a trip to the national title.
Purcell is most known for his relentless recruiting approach. Over the years, he’s helped land 18 five star recruits and 10 four stars. Among those were Louisville greats Myisha Hines-Allen, Asia Durr and Samantha Fuehring who all helped their team to the Final Four in 2018. Purcell also recruited All-American Hailey Van Lith most recently and the current recruiting class has four top 100 players in it.
All nine of the signing classes that he’s been involved in will be ranked inside the top 15 by ESPN with 13 McDonald’s All Americans.
While Purcell has been an integral part of the rise of Louisville women’s basketball, he’s spent a lot of time marinating for this position even elsewhere. A graduate of Auburn, Purcell got his start under a Hall of Fame coach in Joe Ciampi with the Tigers.
Purcell was a student coach for three years before becoming the video coordinator. He worked himself into becoming an assistant coach at Tulsa for two seasons before taking a job at Georgia Tech as video coordinator in 2007. In 2009, Purcell was elevated to the coaching staff as an assistant and spent four years coaching on that staff and developing guards.
Purcell is trying to get MSU women’s basketball back to prominence after a three-year absence of postseason. He’s the 10th head coach in Bulldog history with Nikki McCray-Penson lasting just one season with a 10-9 record in 2020-21 and Doug Novak filling in as interim head coach this season and finishing the year 15-14.

“I’m honored and humbled to be the head women’s basketball coach at Mississippi State University, and I am appreciative to John Cohen and the entire university administration for this opportunity,” Purcell said. “The Purcell family is thrilled to be coming to Starkville, and we can’t wait to meet the team and the entire Bulldog Family. Mississippi State women’s basketball is synonymous with winning, and I fully intend to continue that winning culture. Hail State!” 
Schaefer took MSU women’s hoops to places it had never been going 221-62 in his eight seasons in Starkville and sending MSU to five-straight NCAA Tournaments with four Sweet 16 appearances, three Elite Eights and two Final Fours with State going to the National Title game both times. The Bulldogs also won the SEC Championship twice for the first time in school history and got the school’s first SEC Tournament title in 2019.
The Bulldogs will go right to work for next season as Purcell takes over a roster influx. MSU played with seven available players this year for most of the conference schedule and will have 10 players available to return if they choose with two more additions in Michigan State transfer Alyza Winston and signee Debreasha Powe coming in.
Decisions will have to be made for seniors Anastasia Hayes and Myah Taylor, both of which decided to take part in Senior Night ceremonies but both in which have another year of eligibility. State is expected to return senior center Jessika Carter who missed all of this season and also will bring back Freshman All-SEC member Denae Carter who was hurt most of the SEC schedule. Second leading scorer JerKaila Jordan is also another big piece for Purcell.
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