SCOOBA — Sharon Thompson, East Mississippi Community College’s Director of Athletics and Women’s Head Basketball Coach, has been selected to Mississippi State University’s Sports M-Club Hall of Fame. The former All-SEC women’s basketball standout for the Bulldogs, along with seven other new members of MSU’s 2020 and 2021 Sports Hall of Fame classes, will be enshrined on Sept. 25 when the Bulldogs play host to LSU at Davis Wade Stadium.
Thompson, a four-year starter (1995-98) on the hardwood for the Bulldogs, and football’s Charlie Weatherly, who has served Mississippi State University for 58 years, comprise MSU’s 2021 Sports Hall of Fame class. In addition, Mississippi State’s six-member Class of 2020 features Billy Jackson (football), Bob Tyler (coach/AD), Ray White (men’s basketball), Bobby Thigpen (baseball), Jackie Holden (women’s tennis), and Claire Pollard (women’s tennis).
“It is a privilege to be selected to the Mississippi State University Sports M-Club Hall of Fame and to become a member of such a prestigious group of individuals. This honor would not have been possible without me having excellent coaches and teammates throughout my career at MSU.” Thompson said.
Thompson, who is in her second year as EMCC’s athletics director while also recently having completed her 16thseason as the Lady Lions’ head basketball coach and 20th year overall with the program, finished her Mississippi State playing career as one of the best players in program history and was previously honored as an SEC Great selection in 2005. While playing for former MSU women’s basketball coaches Jerry Henderson and Sharon Fanning, Thompson was an SEC All-Freshman pick in 1994-95 and went on to claim second-team, all-league honors as a junior before capping her outstanding MSU career in 1997-98 as an All-SEC First Team member during her senior season.
“Coach Thompson continues to be recognized by her peers for her contributions to women’s basketball, and I know it is gratifying for her to be honored for her many accomplishments as an All-Southeastern Conference player, as well,” EMCC President Dr. Scott Alsobrooks noted. “We are immensely proud of her, and EMCC is fortunate to have her serving our college in so many roles.”
Having completed her Mississippi State career 23 years ago as the school’s all-time leading rebounder and No. 2 scorer at the time, Thompson continues to rank among the Bulldogs’ Top 10 career leaders in scoring (1,526), rebounding (936), made field goals (566) and made free throws (366). While averaging 14.3 points and 8.7 rebounds during her 107-game MSU career, she averaged an SEC-leading 9.6 rebounds per game as a freshman and posted her career-best scoring average of 16.8 points per contest during her senior year.
“Sharon Thompson is one of the best student-athletes to ever wear the Maroon and White. She was a tough, hard-working winner who represented Mississippi State University in a first-class manner, and she continues to do so professionally as a coach and administrator,” added former MSU women’s basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis.
On the heels of her Hall of Fame career in Starkville, Thompson was the No. 6 pick overall in the 1998 American Basketball League Draft in becoming the first Mississippi State women’s basketball player to be drafted professionally. She played the 1998-99 season with the ABL’s San Jose Lasers in California and spent the following season playing professionally in Italy.
Upon the conclusion of her successful playing career, Thompson, a native of Geiger, Alabama, became East Mississippi’s assistant women’s basketball coach on Dale Peay’s coaching staff. Having succeeded the EMCC coaching veteran in 2005 after four seasons on Peay’s staff, Thompson has compiled a 16-year head coaching record of 203-176 and is a two-time Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Conference (MACCC) Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year recipient.
Most recently, Thompson guided the 2019-20 EMCC Lady Lions to their first conference championship since 1983-84 with a 24-3 overall record that featured a 19-game winning streak and included a 12-game, regular-season sweep of the MACCC’s North Division slate.
Another highlight of Thompson’s EMCC coaching career came when her 2008-09 Lady Lions squad went 25-7 overall en route to making the school’s first NJCAA Tournament appearance since 1978. In collecting NJCAA District O Coach of the Year honors after EMCC claimed the MACCC North Division regular-season title before going on to win the NJCAA Region 23 Tournament, Thompson capped her successful season by participating as a court coach during the 2009 USA Basketball National Team Trials in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Thompson earned her bachelor’s degree in educational psychology from Mississippi State and then completed her master’s degree in physical education from the University of West Alabama in 2003. She has served as an elected member of the Sumter County Board of Education in Alabama.
Thompson’s competitive basketball playing career began at North Sumter Junior High School in Panola, Alabama, where she was a member of Coach Steve Binion’s boys’ basketball team as a seventh-grader. Unfortunately, at the time, the school did not have a girls’ basketball team.
Thompson later developed into one of the state of Alabama’s top prospects during her notable prep career at Sumter County High School in York, Alabama. As a senior, she was named Alabama’s Class 4A Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year, while also being selected as a “Super Five” player in the state by the Alabama Sports Writers Association, after leading Coach Alonzo Sledge’s 25-6 SCHS Wildcats to a runner-up finish in the 1994 Class 4A state tournament.
“It warms my heart to know that all of the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that I put into playing a sport I love has been rewarded by earning one of the highest honors any college student-athlete can receive. I can look back and honestly say that I gave the game of basketball everything I had as a player and that I did so with integrity, class, professionalism and character,” Thompson continued.