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Funeral arrangements announced for basketball great Lusia Harris

Lusia Harris Delta State
Photo courtesy of Delta State Athletics

Funeral arrangements have been made for basketball great Lusia Harris.

The service for Harris, who passed away on January 18, will be held on Saturday, February 5 at 11 a.m. in the Walter Sillers Coliseum at Delta State University. Visitation will be held on Friday, February 4 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Bethesda Five Points Center in Greenwood.

Harris, the first women’s basketball superstar of the modern era, was born in Minter City, Mississippi in 1955. After playing at Amanda Elzy High School in Greenwood, she went on to lead Delta State to three consecutive AIAW national titles from 1975-1977.

Harris was a three-time All-American at Delta State before becoming the second-ever female selected in the NBA Draft when the New Orleans Jazz selected her with the 137th pick in 1977. Denise Long was drafted in 1969 by the San Francisco Warriors. The pick was later voided by the NBA. Thus, Harris was the first and only female officially drafted by the NBA.

Harris was selected ahead of 36 male players but never tried out for the team due to being pregnant. She later played briefly for the Houston Angels of the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL).

The 6-foot-3 post player was also the first U.S. women’s player to score in the Olympics. She still holds Delta State’s record for points (2,891) and rebounds (1,662), averaging 25.9 points and 14.5 rebounds per game over her career.

“She was the best player in the world,” Delta State women’s basketball head coach Craig Roden said. “She would be looked at now as a Jordan or a Kobe.”

Post-playing days, Harris worked at Delta State before becoming the head coach at Texas Southern University. She was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

She was 66 at the time of her death.

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