June 17, 2024 

Victoria Vivians joins Mississippi State coaching staff

The Carthage, Miss., native called her new role 'a dream come true'

Victoria Vivians will be heading back to Mississippi State during the upcoming WNBA offseason in a new role, the team announced Monday. The seasoned WNBA veteran will take on the position of assistant coach and director of scouting at her alma mater, effective in October following the conclusion of her professional season.

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After five seasons with the Indiana Fever, who drafted her No. 8 overall in the 2018 WNBA Draft, Vivians is now a starter for the title-contending Seattle Storm. With this announcement, Vivians will follow in the footsteps of many other WNBA players, including Rhyne Howard, Brionna Jones, and Ruthy Hebard, who are choosing to spend their offseason in coaching roles, as opposed to the usual traveling overseas.

This return to Mississippi State is somewhat predestined, as Vivians was already crowned Mississippi State Homecoming Queen back in 2017. The Carthage, Miss., native called her new role “a dream come true” and highlighted her excitement “for the opportunity to be a part of a program that I love and pour into our student-athletes both on and off the court”.

While Vivians played under a different coaching staff during her time in Starkville, Miss., she expressed her enthusiasm to work alongside coach Purcell in a Mississippi State press release: “What Coach Purcell has accomplished in his first two seasons has been impressive to follow. I can’t wait to learn from this staff every day and be a resource for the next generation of Bulldogs.

Purcell returned the glowing compliments, calling Vivians a “home run hire.” He emphasized his priority of providing his student-athletes with support both on and off of the court. Purcell said that he has “no doubt” that Vivians will be an exceptional mentor for his squad, citing her successful collegiate and professional career.

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Vivians played a key role in what was undoubtably the most successful era for the Bulldogs, led at the time by current Texas head coach Vic Shaefer. During her junior year in Starkville, Vivians helped Mississippi State to their first Elite Eight, Final Four, and National Championship appearances, falling to SEC rival South Carolina in the final. That 2017 Final Four match between the Bulldogs and the UConn Huskies is still considered one of the most exciting upsets in the history of NCAA women’s basketball. The smallest player on the court, Morgan William, hit a buzzer-beater in overtime to break the Huskies’ 111-game winning streak.

The 2017 season was just foreshadowing Vivians’ fairytale senior campaign in 2018. Leading the Bulldogs with 19.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, Vivians carried Mississippi State back to the national championship game. While she wasn’t able to bring national championship trophy back to Starkville, Vivians’ performance earned her the Ann Myers Drysdale award, honoring the top shooting guard in the country. Vivians added first-team All-America honors and three years of All-SEC recognition to her resumé, as well. She finished her career with Mississippi State with 2,527 points – second in program history.

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The hire goes beyond just returning to the campus where she spent four years. It also means returning to her home state. Vivians won Gatorade Player of the Year in both her sophomore and senior years of high school after averaging a whopping 37 and 46 points per game, respectively, for Scott Central High School in Forest, Miss. These numbers carried the Lady Rebels to two state championships and Vivians was also awarded the Mississippi Miss Basketball award twice in her high school career.

As coach Purcell perfectly puts it, “Victoria has shined throughout her entire career and is still excelling at the highest level in our sport.”

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Written by Rowan Schaberg

Rowan Schaberg (she/her) is a Seattle native covering the Seattle Storm for The Next. She is currently studying Sports Journalism at Colorado State University.

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