Summer 2024

Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin leads Ole Miss to Sweet 16, wants people to see God through her

Yolett McPhee-McCuin knew the narrative was being pushed on social media. For all the progress the Ole Miss women’s basketball program had made under her leadership, McPhee-McCuin was still searching for her first signature win.

The Rebels had come close, losing to No. 5 LSU by nine and taking No. 1 South Carolina to overtime in back-to-back games in February. But facts are facts: McPhee-McCuin was 0-16 against top-10 teams since taking the Ole Miss job in 2018.

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That all changed with Sunday’s 54-49 upset of No. 1-seeded Stanford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The last time the Rebels reached the Sweet 16 was also the last time the Cardinal failed to: 2007. The win marked the ninth time this season β€” including both its NCAA Tournament games so far β€” that Ole Miss held an opponent under 50 points.

Speaking to ESPN’s Brooke Weisbrod after the game, McPhee-McCuin gave glory to God and acknowledged the satisfaction of finally getting her signature win.

“Just an incredible amount of gratitude,” she said. “I’d just like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I’d like to thank my family. This team, we just love each other so much. We’ve been waiting for a big one.”

McPhee-McCuin grew up in the Bahamas and uses “no ceilings” as a mantra for her program, wanting her improbable journey to becoming a Power Five head coach to be an inspiration to others.

“This is for the people with a dollar and a dream,” she told Weisbrod. “I’m a little girl from the Bahamas that was given an opportunity. I wasn’t Ole Miss’ first choice, but I was the right one. And I was naive enough to think that I could do it. And that’s what ‘no ceilings’ means, that there’s no limit.”

In the postgame press conference, McPhee-McCuin talked about the role faith plays in her life and the impact of having Christians pouring into her.

“I’m a Christian, a person of faith. … We have a lot of Christians on our team, and so they always challenge me,” she said. “My Christian mentors tell me people need to see God through you, and God is love in my opinion and my faith says that. So, anybody who I touch I want them to feel love.”

Under McPhee-McCuin’s guidance, the Rebels have gone from winning single-digit games her first two seasons to finishing over .500 in year three. They took another huge step last season, going 23-9 with 10 conference victories.

Ole Miss earned a No. 7 seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, the program’s first trip to March Madness since 2007. But the Rebels lost to South Dakota in their first game. That experience helped set the stage for this season, which saw Ole Miss go 22-7 during the regular season, including 11 wins in SEC play, and earn a No. 8 seed.

McPhee-McCuin came on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in 2021 to discuss her faith journey, God’s guidance in her life and the ways her faith impacts her coaching. She explained that staying rooted in God’s Word helps her stay energized and focused during the season.

β€œThere are times in a season where you may lose faith,” she said on the podcast. β€œYou may lose hope. And when hope is gone, hate creeps in. So, I try to fill myself up with the Word and His promises to me as much as possible.”

Next, Ole Miss will face No. 5-seed Louisville on Friday at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN. The winner faces either Colorado or Iowa in the Elite Eight.

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