Pearl River’s Savannah Carter joins Auburn staff

Published 3:00 pm Friday, May 7, 2021

POPLARVILLE, Miss. — Savannah Carter is headed back to the SEC. The Pearl River women’s basketball assistant coach and former Mississippi State standout recently accepted a job at Auburn on Johnnie Harris’ new staff. The Tigers recently announced Carter will join the Auburn staff as the new Director of Player Development.

If there’s one thing Carter will take with her from The River to The Plains it’s Coach Scotty Fletcher’s belief in the power of positivity. In some ways, it’s because of that upbeat mantra that Carter is headed back to the SEC.

“The job came about in a weird way,” Carter recalled recently. 

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The Wildcats were practicing in Marvin R. White Coliseum when news of Harris’ hire broke. Carter remembers Fletcher — who’s also close to Harris — coming up to her and saying she’d be a perfect fit on the new staff.

“I told him I thought she had her staff already picked out, which was true at the time,” Carter said. “A couple minutes later he comes back and says, ‘she’s going to hire you.’”

Some time passed and about a week later Carter’s phone rings while she’s in a store. It was Fletcher with good news.

“He says you’re not going to believe this but Coach Harris just called me wanting you to be on the staff,” she said. “A couple days later she offered me the choice of two different positions. 

“I love coaching and making kids better. That was the highlight of choosing this position.”

Carter paused before continuing. 

“This is all just really, really cool,” she said. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity.” 

Carter and Harris first connected while Harris was on Vic Schaefer’s staff at Mississippi State from 2012-20. Harris spent last season on Schaefer’s staff at Texas before being tasked with turning around Auburn’s program.

During their time together in Starkville, Carter and Harris bonded — despite Carter being a guard and Harris coaching the post players.

“When I came to State she was one of the coaches I connected to the most,” Carter said. “She was always real. She always said what was on her mind and was honest with me.

“She was a post coach but was always in my ear. Even after I graduated, I always called to check on Coach Harris. She’s a very genuine person.” 

In her lone season at The River, Carter made an immediate impact on the Wildcat program coaching the guards and serving as recruiting coordinator.

“I am beyond excited for Coach Carter and her new journey as a coach. She is very deserving for this opportunity and I am certain she will do a phenomenal job for Coach Harris and her staff,” Fletcher said. “When I first visited with Coach Carter I knew right away she was a rising star in the coaching profession. When you look at her playing career it matches her work ethic and she is always eager to get better. When I was doing my research on Coach Carter the one thing that kept coming up was how competitive she was and she loves to win. 

“That was evident every day in practice and around the office. She never turned that switch off.”

Fletcher said Carter’s impact went well beyond the hardwood.

“She was a great mentor to our girls and they learned a lot from her; I learned a lot from her personally as well,” Fletcher said. “We as coaches always have a vision for our players and want them to continue their dreams, so to see a close friend like coach Carter get this opportunity; it’s huge for our program and institution.”

In some ways, Carter’s coaching connection with PRCC and Harris has gone full circle.

“Coach Harris actually recommended me to hire her, and now coach Harris is hiring her,” Fletcher said. “I couldn’t be more excited for two of my good friends. They are both very deserving and have earned this opportunity. 

“This is an exciting time for her and I have no reservations she will be truly missed from the players, the campus and myself personally. She is awesome with a capital A.”

Although she only spent one season in Poplarville, Carter expects to be visiting quite a bit in the future.

Carter recalled first talking to Fletcher on the phone during the interview process. 

“He has such great energy. I was in my back yard on the patio. I was kind of pacing back and forth and I just remember me smiling the whole time he was talking because his energy was just so positive,” she said. “He’s a great man. I’ve never come across a boss like him. He became a lifelong friend. He’s big on appreciation and I am too. 

“He was always so loving to us. You could never say a bad thing about him. He’s been a blessing in my life.”

The positivity is baked into the program, Carter said.

“His positive energy will stay with me. I used to think the man was so crazy for being positive all the time — but it rubbed off on me,” she said. “He’s always talking about promoting positivity and that’s something that’s engrained them.”

Carter will also miss her time in the office and being around PRCC’s student athletes.

“I will remember the energy and great people here,” Carter said. “I called my mom not too long ago and told her it’s crazy how when you have the most fun you have to go. The people here are so awesome and genuine. These kids, it’s just so easy to love them.

“Coach Fletcher … He made it such a great experience here. I think that’s what I’m going to miss the most, the office energy. It’s never quiet.”

The Tigers are coming off a difficult season, but Carter believes they can turn Auburn back into a contender. After all, Carter had the best seat in the house as Harris helped make MSU a national powerhouse.

“She has all the tools and answers to rebuild a program,” Carter said. “She did it within two years at Mississippi State. She has a great blueprint. 

“She has all the tools in the world to make them successful and put Auburn back on the map.”