May 31, 2014 11:19:38 PM
Brittany Hudson's goal is to become a head women's basketball coach.
When Hudson looks at Matt Insell, she sees someone who has followed a path similar to the one she is and has realized his dream of becoming a head coach.
Hudson hopes her decision to leave Mississippi State and become an assistant coach on Insell's staff at Ole Miss helps her realize her goal of becoming a head coach sooner rather than later.
"It was about career advancement," Hudson said Thursday when asked about her decision to leave MSU for Southeastern Conference rival Ole Miss. "It was more so a business decision."
Hudson joined MSU coach Vic Schaefer's coaching staff in 2012. In the past two seasons, Hudson played an integral role in helping the Bulldogs land two nationally ranked recruiting classes. This past season, MSU finished 22-14 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women's National Invitation Tournament.
Insell, who spent five years as an assistant coach to Matthew Mitchell at Kentucky, hopes Hudson can use her recruiting acumen to help the Rebels return to the postseason. Ole Miss finished 12-20 (2-14 in the SEC) last season in Insell's first year at the school.
"I have known Brittany a long time, and she is someone I have always respected in the game," Insell said. "She is someone I have watched and coached against right up the road, and I have seen the headway she has been making in recruiting. I am always asking other coaches and also asking parents of other recruits when I am recruiting their kids who do you like. I ask them to tell me a coach who had done a really good job with you. Brittany Hudson's name always comes up. She is someone parents talk really well about when I ask them questions. She is also someone other coaches talk really good about. She is really connected in circles like grass roots basketball. We need someone who has those connections and someone who is really proven. When I went out looking for a new coach, it was a no-brainer. She was the first and only coach I talked to."
Hudson said the opportunity to coach at Ole Miss wasn't something she anticipated. She said she didn't leave MSU with any bad blood or because of any negative relationships. In fact, she said she "loved" being a part of the coaching staff with Schaefer, associate head coach Johnnie Harris, assistant coach Aqua Franklin, and director of basketball operations Maryann Baker. But she feels the position at Ole Miss gives her an opportunity to grow in her career path.
"The things I am going to be a part of here are things I may not have had a hand in there," Hudson said. "I will have completely different responsibilities here and there."
Hudson said she will work with assistant coach Alex Simmons to direct the Rebels' recruiting efforts. She said she wouldn't have the title of recruiting coordinator but liked the fact she was going to be able to put her abilities to build relationships with student-athletes and families to use.
"I think a lot of it is honesty," Hudson said when asked what she feels makes her a successful recruiter. "A lot of times in recruiting a lot of people will tell players what they want to hear and then it can be completely different when they get on campus. I try to be honest and tell players were we may see them fit into the program and what we can do to help them get better and attain their goals.
"I think I have a great opportunity to be able to recruit some great players as well as help the program become successful and even better than where it is. If you look at the numbers from last year to this year, Ole Miss has gotten a lot better from last year. I think I have a great opportunity to continue to program to excel. Recruiting is a big part of it."
Insell, who worked as Mitchell's primary assistant coach, agrees. He said he has confidence in turning Simmons and Hudson loose on the recruiting trail to help them find players they can add to the program to help the Rebels climb the ladder in the SEC.
"Brittany obviously worked at Mississippi State, and I was not trying to take someone from Mississippi State. I went after the best candidate who could help us take our program to the next level," Insell said. "Brittany's name came up in two or three phone calls I made to people I really trusted and every one of them said if you can take Brittany Hudson you better get her."
Insell admitted he didn't know how people would read into the fact Hudson was going from MSU to Ole Miss. He brought up his move from one SEC school to another as evidence coaches sometimes move to schools within the same conference, especially when their goal is to run their own program. He feels Hudson's reputation as a recruiter will prove he hired the best candidate.
Hudson hopes she can solidify the work she has done as an assistant coach and that that work will help take her closer to her goal of becoming a head coach. She isn't sure when that time will come, but she believes this step will enhance her chances of making it happen.
"It has been tough because initially I wanted to stay to be a part of what Mississippi State is building," Hudson said. "They have a great opportunity to be a NCAA team or finish very far in the WNIT again (in 2014-15). It is always hard to be a part of something and then leave, but Matt has taken kind of the same path to get into coaching and advancing his career, and that is something I wanted to be a part of to help with my career. It was a great opportunity to grow from and to learn from someone who has already attained the goals I would like to attain."
A 2008 Georgia State graduate, Hudson spent a season at Daytona State College in her hometown of Daytona Beach, Fla. She worked alongside 2012 Mid-Florida Coach of the Year Cal Cochran and helped nine players earn FCSAA All-Conference honors, including a league-best four first-team selections.
Hudson, who played basketball at Georgia State and Valdosta State, also spent time at Morehead State with current Ole Miss Director of Operations Eric White. Hudson served at the Eagles' director of operations in 2010-11 season.
She also has an extensive Amateur Athletic Union background, serving as a coach with the Florida-based Essence Girls basketball program. In addition to her coaching duties, she arranged tournament travel and served as site director for numerous tournaments.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.