Harris earns SEC honor; Martin hires new assistant coach

Ty Harris (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

News Wednesday out of the two USC basketball offices. On the women’s side, senior guard Tyasha Harris was named the SEC Female Athlete of the Year. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the award for the men. Harris averaged 12 points and 6 assists per game last season. She was named a consensus All-American and first team All-SEC. On the men’s side, Frankk Martin replaced the retired Perry Clark on his staff with Will Bailey who has been an assistant coach at Saint Louis the past four seasons. Bailey is a native of Chicago and has been a D-1 assistant for over 15 years.

Here’s the USC release on Harris:

South Carolina women’s basketball’s Tyasha Harris was named the 2019-20 SEC Roy F. Kramer SEC Female Athlete of the Year, the league announced today. She is the second Gamecock in the last three seasons to claim the award and the fourth since the inception of the award in 1976. LSU’s Joe Burrow was named SEC Male Athlete of the Year for 2019-20.

“This award says Athlete of the Year, but Ty Harris is much more than that,” South Carolina Director of Athletics Ray Tanner said. “A selfless leader for one of the most successful programs in the country, she is a hard worker and an outstanding teammate as well. Ty is a great representative of the University of South Carolina and the SEC, and I’m ecstatic to see her receive this award.”

A First-Team All-SEC selection, consensus All-American and winner of The Dawn Staley Award, Harris capped her career with a career-high 12.0 points per game to go with her SEC-best 5.7 assist average, which ranked 12th in the nation. The sure-handed point guard was 10th in the nation with a 2.78 assist-to-turnover ratio as well. Combining her scoring and points off her assists. Harris had her hands on 30.7 percent of the Gamecocks’ total offense, which averaged a school-record 82.0 points. In the biggest games, her assist numbers grew to 5.9 per SEC game and 6.4 per game against nationally ranked opponents. In five games against top-10 foes, her contributions were even more gaudy – 17.0 points and 7.8 assists per game.

Beyond her statistical impact, Harris’ third season as a team captain saw her thrive in the role, leading a roster that included just one other Gamecock with more than 10 starts to her career. Her steadying presence and understanding of personnel helped channel the talented, ultra-competitive young team to a 32-1 overall record that included SEC regular-season and tournament titles, 10 weeks ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll and the No. 1 ranking in both final polls of the season for the first time in program history.

“Ty winning SEC Female Athlete of the Year is the result of her hard work and commitment to excellence both on and off the court,” South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley said. “Throughout her career, she has led by example, and it was exemplified when our season ended abruptly due to COVID-19. Ty is a class act who has left an indelible mark on our program.”

Harris enjoying the spotlight as a senior is a fitting end for a standout career that has often seen her subtle command of the point guard position overshadowed by larger figures. After taking over the starting point guard role in January of her freshman season, she was at the helm for the 2017 NCAA National Championship, two SEC Regular-Season Championships (2017, 2020) and three SEC Tournament titles (2017, 2018, 2020). The Gamecocks won 84.3 percent (118-22) of the games she played, including 85.9 percent (55-9) of regular-season SEC games. In 55 career games against ranked opponents, she led her team to a 38-17 mark (.691).

“It is a great honor to be recognized with this award when there were so many others who could have won it as well,” Harris said. “I am beyond happy for this award not just because of all the time and hard work I put in, but because it’s also a product of the love and support from my teammates and coaches. They continuously pushed me to get better and better every day.”

Individually, Harris is a three-time All-SEC selection, a consensus All-American and was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft by the Dallas Wings. She is the first Gamecock to record 700 assists, finishing with 702 to rank 10th all-time in the SEC. Harris also holds the school record for career assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.55, and she is tied for the program record with 139 games played. In addition to her 11 double-doubles, the most points-assists double-doubles in program history, she ranks among the program’s top 10 in seven other career categories – free throw percentage (. 792, 2nd), minutes played (4,168, 2nd), games started (127, 2nd), assists per game (5.1, 3rd), steals (224, 8th), made 3s (135, 9th), 3-point field goal percentage (.328, 10th) and minutes per game (30.0, 10th).

Harris is the fourth Gamecock all-time to earn SEC Athlete of the Year honors and the second Staley product to pick up the award after A’ja Wilson was the first South Carolina women’s basketball selection in 2018. Gamecock baseball’s Kip Bouknight won the award in 2000, and softball’s Trinity Johnson was the first Gamecock to bring home the honor in 1997.

Here’s the USC release on Bailey:

University of South Carolina head men’s basketball coach Frank Martin announced on Wednesday the hiring of Will Bailey as an assistant coach for the Gamecocks. Bailey arrives in Columbia after spending the past four seasons in the same position at Saint Louis.

“I’m excited to add Will Bailey to our staff; he is a perfect fit,” Martin said. “We have known each other since our America East days when I was at Northeastern and he was at Maine. He has a relentless work ethic that he uses in recruiting and player development. It is no surprise that everywhere he goes the program starts to win.”

A Chicago native, Bailey has served as an assistant at SLU, La Salle, East Tennessee State, Maine and Chicago State and has over 15 years of experience at the Division I level.

“I’m very excited to be joining Coach Martin’s staff here at the University of South Carolina. He is well respected in the college coaching community and in the SEC,” Bailey commented. “The University of South Carolina is an outstanding institution with a great reputation for both athletics and academics. Coach Martin has built a great culture here and has a vision for the future of which I am proud to become a part of. I am super excited about this opportunity.”

Bailey was hired at Saint Louis in April 2016, and helped the Billikens improve their win total each season he was on staff, highlighted by a 23-13 overall record, an A-10 Tournament Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2018-19. He helped tutor all-conference guard Javon Bess, who was named the A-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2019.

While at La Salle, Bailey helped the Explorers reach the Postseason NIT in 2011-12, before the squad advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in 2012-13. La Salle was one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the nation in 2011-12 as well, finishing fourth nationally at 40.6 percent from beyond the arc. Bailey played an important role in the development of all-conference guards Earl Pettis, Ramon Galloway and Tyreek Duren with the Explorers.

Bailey spent seven seasons as an assistant at ETSU under his former coach Murray Bartow, helping the Bucs to six conference titles, three NCAA Tournament berths, an NIT appearance and four 20-win campaigns. Bailey coached two of the top three scorers in ETSU history in Tim Smith and Courtney Pigram and three conference players of the year during his time with the Buccaneer program.

Bailey also spent one season as an assistant at both Maine (2002-03) and Chicago State (2001-02), and as a student assistant and later a graduate assistant at UAB after completing his eligibility.

Prior to his time coaching, Bailey played two seasons at UAB (1995-97) and served as team captain of the 1996-97 squad that reached the NIT. He was also selected as the team’s top defensive player in 1997. Bailey spent two seasons at Parkland College, helping his team to a No. 1 ranking and the NJCAA National Tournament in 1994, and in 1995, Bailey averaged 18 points per game, led the nation in assists and was a first-team all-conference selection. He was inducted into the Parkland College Hall of Fame in 2019.

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