McCray-Penson hires Eddie Benton as assistant coach

Published 11:04 am Tuesday, June 15, 2021

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State women’s basketball head coach Nikki McCray-Penson announced Friday the addition of Eddie Benton, who boasts more than 20 years of coaching experience, as an assistant coach on her staff.

“Once you meet Coach Benton, the first thing you notice is his energy,” said McCray-Penson. “He checks all the boxes when it comes to energy, recruiting and competing. He has worked with some really good coaches in this business, and his ability to mentor young people is exceptional. I’m excited about him joining our program, and I know that he will elevate our program.”

Benton comes to Starkville after spending the last three years as an assistant coach with the Brown University women’s basketball program, having joined the team in June 2018.

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In 2018-19, Brown featured three active 1,000-point scorers for the first time in program history in Shayna Mehta ’19, Justine Gaziano ’20, and Erika Steeves ’19. Benton helped guide the Bears’ Class of 2019 – including Mehta, Steeves, Taylor Will, and Mary Butler – to become the highest scoring class in program history with 4,306 points. Mehta finished her career second at Brown in career scoring (1,785 points) and as the Bears’ all-time leader in 3-pointers made (261).

The 2019-20 season saw Gaziano finish her career with 1,818 career points, ranking second all-time at Brown and 10th all-time in Ivy League history. In the Brown record books, Gaziano ranks third in career field goals (651), third in career 3-pointers (209), and fifth in career free throws (307). McKenna Dale ’21 increased her production during Ivy League play, ranking third in the conference in points per game (17.0).

Benton boasts coaching stints at the University of Cincinnati, Duquesne University and Saint Francis University (Pa.), helping lead all three of those programs to postseason appearances.

During the 2017-18 season, Benton served as an assistant coach at Cincinnati, aiding the program to an appearance in the 2018 WNIT. He was joined on the bench by new MSU assistant Tamisha Augustin that season. With the Bearcats, he worked in a number of capacities, assisting with practice coordination, player development, scouting, game scheduling and recruiting.

Prior to Cincinnati, Benton coached at Duquesne from 2013-16, helping the team reach the 2016 NCAA Championship Second Round and concluding the season with a 28-6 overall record. Benton and the Dukes earned invitations to the WNIT in both 2014 and 2015.

From 2004-12, Benton acted as the head women’s basketball coach at La Roche College, garnering Allegheny Mountain College Conference Coach of the Year accolades in 2011 and 2012. He led LaRoche to back-to-back Division III NCAA Tournament appearances in 2011 and 2012.

Benton acted as an assistant coach at St. Francis (Pa.) in 2012-13, appearing in the WBI with the Red Flash. From 2001-04, he served as an assistant men’s coach at Robert Morris and acted as an assistant men’s coach at La Roche from 1999-2001.

A standout student-athlete, Benton played at the University of Vermont from 1992-96, concluding his career as the Catamounts all-time leading scorer with 2,474 points. He earned First Team All-America East honors four times, won the 1996 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation’s top point guard under six feet, and captured the 1996 Bob Cousy Award as New England’s top point guard. Benton went on to play professionally in the Continental Basketball Association, Israel, and Venezuela.

Benton served as a men’s student assistant at Vermont during the 1996-97 season, earning a bachelor’s degree from Vermont in 1997.

Benton has two children named NyAsia Nicole Benton and Eddie Benton III. He married his wife Daynia, who is an assistant coach for the Atlanta Dream, in 2020.

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