Ole Miss women’s basketball head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin — better known as “Coach Yo” — is determined to see her team return to the NCAA Tournament after the No. 8 Rebels lost to No. 5 Louisville, 72-62, on Friday.
“The new standard for us is Sweet 16, and I think that that’s fair,” McPhee-McCuin said after the loss. “I’ve got five star-studded freshmen coming in and I’m about to do damage in the portal. So we’ll be back.”
McPhee-McCuin — who got her job coaching at Ole Miss after cold-calling the school to pitch herself — has gained a reputation as a coach adept at navigating the transfer portal. Of the nine Ole Miss players who averaged at least 10 minutes a game during March Madness, six were transfers.
The Rebels were playing in the Sweet 16 after upsetting No. 1 Stanford in the second round, holding the Cardinal to their second-lowest points total of the season.
“She’s the queen of the transfer portal,” said Myah Taylor, who concluded her NCAA eligibility as a graduate student at Ole Miss after playing four seasons at Mississippi State. “This team has just been a breath of fresh air for me. Coach Yo has really pushed me to embrace my journey and to write my own story, and I really feel like I did that here at Ole Miss.”
“Anybody who is whining about (the transfer portal) is going to be out of the business in two years. Remember I said that. You better evolve or you’re gone, all right? And the portal is a part of life, baby. So I just embrace it,” McPhee-McCuin said.
In addition to being a helpful recruiting tool, McPhee-McCuin appreciates that the transfer portal gives players more freedom. Prior to an NCAA rule change in 2021, Division 1 athletes who transferred between schools were required to sit out a year.
“These are young people. Give them a chance to correct their wrongs, you know? Freedom of choice,” she said.
“I make wrong decisions all the time. I bought a Lexus. I was ready to take that thing back after two weeks because I should have gotten a hybrid. As soon as I filled that tank up, I knew I made a mistake. I can’t go in the portal. I’m still stuck with the damn RX, okay?”