‘Queen of Basketball,’ Lusia Harris You’ll find everything you need to know about her on this page.
Lusia Harris was a basketball player from the United States. Harris is regarded as a pioneer in the field of women’s basketball. From 1975 to 1977, she was a member of Delta State University’s basketball team that won three consecutive Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) National Championships, which were the precursors to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships.
She represented the United States at the international level, winning a silver medal at the 1976 Olympic Games, the first women’s basketball competition ever held at an Olympic Games. She was the first and only woman ever officially drafted by the National Basketball Association (NBA), a men’s professional basketball league, while playing professional basketball with the Houston Angels of the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL).
Harris was elected into both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in recognition of her accomplishments.
About her past life
Harris was born in Minter City, Mississippi, to cranberry farmer Willie Harris and his wife Ethel. She was the tenth of eleven children and the fourth of five daughters to attend Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood, Mississippi. All of her brothers, as well as one of her older sisters, Janie, were basketball players.
In high school, Harris played basketball for Conway Stewart. She was named team captain and made the state All-Star team three years in a row after winning the most valuable player award. She set a school record with 46 points in a single game and led her team to the Mississippi state tournament in Jackson.
She had intended to attend Alcorn State University, which did not have a women’s basketball team, after graduating from high school.
However, Margaret Wade, who was resurrecting a collegiate women’s team at Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, recruited her to play for her. Because this was before Title IX, she was able to attend school on a combination of academic scholarships and work study funds.
About Her College Life
Harris led the Lady Statesmen to a 16–2 record in her first year at Delta State, 1973–74. However, they were unable to qualify for the national championship after finishing third in the regional event.
The Lady Statesmen qualified for the national tournament at Harrisonburg, Virginia in 1974–75. They made it all the way to the final, where they faced Immaculata University’s Mighty Macs, who had won the last three AIAW titles in a row.
The 1975 championship game was broadcast on national television (albeit delayed). This was the first year that a major network broadcasted women’s basketball games nationally.
Delta State and Immaculata met in the national championship final again in 1975–76. In a 69–64 victory, Harris led Delta State with 30 points and 18 rebounds.
With 1,060 points and a 31.2 point per game average that season, she topped the nation in scoring, including a 58-point performance against Tennessee Tech. Delta State played a game in Madison Square Garden during Harris’ senior season, 1976–77, in which she scored 47 points. This was one of the first ever women’s basketball games at the venue.
For the third year in a row, Delta State advanced to the national championship game. Delta State defeated Louisiana State University 68–55 in the final, with Harris scoring 23 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.
During Delta State’s three winning seasons, Harris was selected the most valuable player in the national tournament and was named to the All-American first team. Her college record was 109–6, with wins over Immaculata University, University of Tennessee, Baylor University, University of Mississippi, Louisiana State University, and Louisiana Tech University. Harris averaged 25.9 points and 14.5 rebounds per game during her college career, finishing with 2,981 points and 1,662 rebounds.
She also has fifteen of Delta State’s eighteen team, single game, and career records. She was the first woman to win the Honda Sports Award for basketball in 1977, as well as the Broderick Cup, which recognises exceptional female athletes in college.
Harris was the team’s only African American player throughout her time at Delta State. The Walter Sillers Coliseum, where Harris played for the Lady Statesmen, was named after Walter Sillers Jr., an avowed White Nationalist. Sillers’ name is still on the arena as of December 2021.
About Harris Death
“Unexpectedly recently in Mississippi, Lusia Harris passed away,” the family announced in a statement. “The news of her youngest son’s forthcoming wedding, as well as the outpouring of praise gained by a recent documentary that brought her storey worldwide prominence, have brought Ms. Harris enormous delight in recent months.”
Harris, who died in her hometown of Mississippi, was taken in the seventh round by the New Orleans Jazz in 1977, but she didn’t try out since she was pregnant at the time.
“She would be recognised for her charitable organization, for her successes on and off the court, and for the brightness she helped bring to her community, the State of Mississippi, her nation as the first woman ever to score a basket in the Olympics, and to women who play basketball around the world,” according to the statement.
Harris died on January 18, 2022, just over a month before her 67th birthday, at a treatment centre in Mound Bayou.