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September 29, 2023

The Queen of Basketball

Received the Academy Award for short subject documentary 

By Andy Collier

Sports Editor, The Bolivar Bullet

When Lusia “Lucy” Harris played basketball at Delta State University from 1973-77, the Minter City native was the biggest superstar of her era as she helped put women’s basketball on the map. 

Harris, who died on Jan. 18, was the subject of a short documentary directed by Ben Proudfoot titled: The Queen of Basketball, which premiered in July of 2021. 

With all the awards she garnered during her life, there is one more award that can be added to her mantel. On Sunday (March 27), the Queen of Basketball won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject at the 94th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. The documentary touched on Harris’ life from her childhood, to her basketball career and her life after basketball.

Harris, who played center, led the Lady Statesmen to three straight A.I.A.W (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) National Championships from 1975-77. Her play captivated the nation as she led Team USA to the Gold Medal in the Pan American Games in 1975 and led Team USA to the Silver Medal in the 1976 Olympics. She is the only woman to be officially selected in the NBA Draft as she was picked in the seventh round by the New Orleans Jazz in 1977. 

“Delta State is very pleased that The Queen of Basketball documentary about our legendary alumna, Lucy Harris, won an Oscar,” said DSU President Bill LaForge. “Lucy was the dominant player for Delta State during a three national championship run in the 1970s for the Lady Statesmen basketball program. She made Delta State proud then and continues to do so after her untimely passing just recently. The documentary provides a fitting tribute to Lucy and the tremendous impact she had on Delta State and on women’s basketball. I congratulate Ben Proudfoot and all those in the making of the documentary.”

After her playing days were over, she went into coaching as she was the head women’s basketball coach at Texas Southern University for two years. She also worked as a teacher and coach at Amanda Elzy High School. 

She has been inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1992, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 1999, and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. She is also a member of the Delta State University Sports Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.