Upstate Announces McWilliams, Poppie as Assistant Women's Basketball Coaches
Spartanburg, S.C. – Coming off back-to-back third-place finishes in the A-Sun and an appearance in the Women's Basketball Invitational last March, USC Upstate head coach Tammy George and the women's basketball program have named former Elizabeth City State assistant Ayana McWilliams and former Limestone assistant Shawn Poppie as assistant coaches. Both started work on July 5.
McWilliams is no stranger to the coaching style of George, though she will rejoin her in a much different capacity than when she played for her for two seasons at Brevard. McWilliams was the co-Player of the Year in the Appalachian Athletic Conference in 2005, helping George and the Tornados to a second-straight appearance in the NAIA National Tournament.
"I am thrilled to welcome Ayana to my staff," said George. "She is a former player of mine and she already has a great understanding of what I want and expect from my players. She has a true competitiveness and love for the game that will assist her in attracting and recruiting high-quality players to Upstate. Ayana has an exceptional mind for the game that will be instrumental in the development of our players."
McWilliams came to Upstate after serving as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator under Alico Dunk at Elizabeth City State the last two seasons. She helped lead the Lady Vikings to a 20-9 overall record and a 13-5 mark in the CIAA (NCAA Division II) last year and a 19-10 overall record and an 11-9 mark in the CIAA in 2009-10.
Prior to her stint at Elizabeth City State, McWilliams was assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Livingstone College from 2007-09. She got her coaching start as an assistant coach at Winston-Salem State from 2006-07.
McWilliams graduated from Brevard with a bachelor's degree in Exercise Science in 2005. She received a master's degrees in Sports Management/Sports Coaching from the United States Sports Academy earlier this month.
A native of Pensacola, Fla., McWilliams signed to play at East Carolina out of high school. She spent two seasons with the Pirates from 2001-03 before transferring to Brevard and finishing her playing career with George and the Tornados. She led Brevard to a 43-21 record in two seasons from 2003-05, including a 21-1 conference mark in 2004-05 en route to earning co-Player of the Year honors from the AAC alongside teammate Kris May Richardson. She was also the league's Defensive Player of the Year.
McWilliams was a prolific player for Brevard. Despite playing just two seasons in the program, she holds two career records at the school with 296 assists and 288 steals. Her 16.5 points per game scoring average ranks second all-time. She is the fourth-leading scorer in school history with 1,039. She also holds the school record with an 81.3 free throw percentage and is third with 459 rebounds.
McWilliams also owns two single-season school records, having dished out 163 assists and coming up with 155 steals in 2004-05. Her 133 assists and steals in 2003-04 stand as the second-best single-season efforts in school history.
McWilliams was a two-time all-conference selection in the AAC and earned national acclaim as the NAIA National Player of the Week on Jan. 11, 2005. She was a standout player at Booker T. Washington High School in Pensacola where she helped lead the team to three district championships, three state final four appearances and one state championship. She was an all-state and all-district honoree.
Poppie is no stranger to Upstate or the G.B. Hodge Center, the home of Spartan basketball. As a player at Limestone, he played several games in the Hodge Center and against Upstate when the Spartans were members of NCAA Division II. After graduation, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant women's basketball coach and helped lead a transformation of the program under head coach Corey Fox.
"It is with great excitement that I welcome Shawn to my staff," said George. "Shawn's name was one that consistently came up during this search. Shawn has a great reputation as a recruiter. He is relentless and has the ability to connect with people that will play an important role in our recruiting. He was a very good player and I believe that he will be able to mentor and develop our players."
Poppie was a two-time all-conference selection as a player in the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference. He also left his mark on the men's program as the all-time leader with 602 assists and 168 steals. He is the fifth player in school history to reach 1,000 points, finishing his career ranked third with 1,246 points. He ranks second all-time in rebounds, third in games played, fourth in blocked shots and fifth in three-pointers made.
As a senior in 2006-07, he ranked sixth in the nation with a 6.8 assists average while leading the team with 176 dimes. He was an all-conference selection after averaging 13.8 points. He was an all-conference pick as a junior, averaging 12.3 points and dishing out 121 assists.
When he returned to Limestone as assistant coach, the Saints were coming off of a 10-19 season in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the team finished 16-15. In 2009-10, the Saints finished with a 17-11 overall record and a 15-7 mark in the conference. Last year, Poppie helped lead the squad to a 19-9 overall record and a 14-6 conference mark. Limestone was 65-50 overall during his tenure with the program.
A native of Crescent City, Ill., Poppie was a standout athlete at CPCI. He was a three-time all-conference player and was a two-time all-state selection as a high school standout. He graduated from Limestone with a bachelor's degree in Sport Management in 2007.