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Barbara Farris named Assistant Head Basketball Coach at USM



Barbara Harris

Story from USM Athletics:
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Lady Eagle assistant coach Barbara Farris was elevated to the title of assistant head coach by head coach Joye Lee-McNelis. Farris, a ten-year veteran of the WNBA and experienced coach at the college and professional levels, will be in her second season with the Lady Eagles this winter.

“We are extremely blessed to have Coach Farris as a Lady Eagle,” said McNelis. “Her expertise and experience at the college and professional level are evident every day in practice, team meetings, recruiting visits and game day planning. I am excited to watch her continue to grow as a Division I coach after spending over 15 years playing and coaching in the WNBA. Barbara is one of the brightest stars I have had the pleasure of working with and I am honored to have her as my assistant head coach. The future of Lady Eagle Basketball is bright with Barbara Farris on our staff.”

“I am tremendously excited to begin my second year at Southern Miss,” said Farris. “I look forward to working with these young ladies and cherish my role in their continued development and success. At the same time, I am humbled by the trust and confidence Coach McNelis has in me and my role in the Lady Eagle program. We will keep demonstrating the hard work and commitment it takes to bring Southern Miss to the top!”

Farris, a native of Metairie, La., joined Southern Miss for the 2023-24 season, overseeing the program’s front court development. Working with the overall staff to prepare for upcoming opponents and recruit future student-athletes, Farris was instrumental in collecting the Lady Eagles’ first back-to-back 20-win season since 2015.

Under the former WNBA star’s tutelage, COVID-Junior Melyia Grayson enjoyed a standout season in 2023-24, setting career bests in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, games played and minutes played. Her performance over the course of the season helped the Lady Eagles to the third round of the Postseason WNIT and earned Grayson a spot on the Sun Belt Conference’s Third Team.

Overall, Farris is in her 19th season coaching basketball and sixth at the Division I level. She also spent five seasons as an assistant coach for the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

Director of Analytics and Player Development Connor McNelis also earned a title change and will work the 2024-25 season as assistant coach and director of analytics and player development.

Also returning for her second season is assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, Jessica Barber, while Brooks Donald Williams rejoins the Lady Eagles as the program’s associate head coach. Mack Gardner also returns for his fourth season as the Lady Eagles’ Director of Operations.

2024-25 Lady Eagle Coach Staff (Season in current role)
Head Coach – Joye Lee-McNelis (21st)
Associate Head Coach – Brooks Donald Williams (First)
Assistant Head Coach – Barbara Farris(Second)
Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator – Jessica Barber (Second)
Assistant Coach/Director of Analytics and Player Development – Connor McNelis(Second)
Director of Operations – Mack Gardner(Fourth)

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