The new Missouri State women’s basketball head coach was formally introduced at a press conference on Wednesday, April 17.
Amaka Agugua-Hamilton, more commonly known as “Coach Mox,” was announced as head coach of the Lady Bears by Missouri State Director of Athletics Kyle Moats and University President Clif Smart.
"Today is a new day for Lady Bear basketball," Moats said. "We're hiring a seasoned veteran on a number of fronts who has earned the right to be a head coach."
Agugua-Hamilton spent her last six years at Michigan State University, four of which she was associate head coach.
While Agugua-Hamilton has no true head coaching experience, she said Michigan State head coach Suzy Merchant fell ill in 2017, and she filled in as interim head coach.
In her six years at Michigan State, Agugua-Hamilton helped coach the Spartans to a 125-72 overall record.
She said she hopes to do what Kellie Harper did at Missouri State, as well as all of her other predecessors.
"The tradition here is to raise banners," Agugua-Hamilton said. "That will continue to be the goal. We will not waver from that. I don't plan on wavering from that."
Players who have been a part of the Lady Bears program under Harper’s lead said they were excited for Agugua-Hamilton and the future of the program.
“You can tell she’s really going to care for us as people, but she’s also going to push us and make us better basketball players too,” junior Alexa Willard said. “It’s going to be a really good fit.”
“I’m super excited because I think I’ve met my match with someone who is as vibrant as I am,” sophomore Bri Ellis said. “Her energy when she walked in the room — I could just feel it. We’ve hit the jackpot.”
Agugua-Hamilton met with the team right after getting off the plane, and she said the hunt for her coaching staff had already begun.
While no official announcement has been made by MSU, Missouri State’s Chief Diversity Officer H. Wes Pratt tweeted a photo of Franqua Bedell on April 19 that said, “Coach Q, new Assistant Lady Bears coach Franqua ‘Q’ Bedell, welcomed by City Councilmember Abe McGull and Board members at the MudLounge. Welcome coach!”
Coach Q, new Assistant Lady Bears coach Franqua “Q” Bedell, welcomed by City Councilmember Abe McGull and Board members at the MudLounge. Welcome coach! pic.twitter.com/tCwVkhiKfY— H. Wes Pratt (@HWesPratt) April 19, 2019
The official Lady Bears schedule for 2019-20 has not been released, but Agugua-Hamilton said it will look much like years past in difficulty.
In the 2018-19 season under Harper, the Lady Bears started 1-7 against tough opponents like ranked Mizzou and Gonzaga. The Bears started a 13-game win streak at the Roo Holiday Classic in Kansas City, Missouri, over the university’s holiday break.
Missouri State went on a roll through the NCAA Tournament to the Sweet 16, defeating No. 21 Drake, No. 24 DePaul and No. 13 Iowa State. before losing to No. 6 Stanford.
“There’s definitely a lot of pressure,” Agugua-Hamilton said. “Making the Sweet 16 is not easy, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work to make it back. Our goal is to be competing for conference championships, reaching the NCAA Tournament, getting hot and repeat that and go beyond. It’s been done here many times before. We definitely have the talent to get it done. It’s not a given, but we will be dedicated to it.”
In the meantime, Agugua-Hamilton will be implementing her F.A.B. philosophy. F.A.B. stands for family, academics and then — lastly — basketball. Agugua-Hamilton said family, whether the immediate family or basketball family, always comes first.
“Family is very valuable to me,” Agugua-Hamilton said. “It shows that we’re in it for something bigger than ourselves. We as a family will attack this together.”
Then, academics always precedes basketball. Agugua-Hamilton said she is here as a coach not only to prepare the athletes for every game on the court, but also for life after college.
She will be working with a talented, young group of athletes that are expected to return for next year’s season. Players like freshman Jasmine Franklin, who holds the MSU rebounds and blocks records for a freshman season, are expected to make an impact for the Lady Bears.
“I’d like to thank Kellie Harper and her staff for continuing to raise the bar here and for recruiting these talented individuals in front of me,” Agugua-Hamilton said.