The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum Announces the Class of 2017
Jackson, MS – An NFL coach, an honored sports writer, two baseball players and coaches, a fabled running back and a lady hoopster make up the newest class of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. The Class of 2017 to be inducted next August includes Columbus native and NFL coach Leslie Frazier, decorated sports writer Rick Cleveland, big league pitcher Jay Powell, long-time baseball coach and JSU Athletic Director Bob Braddy, Sr., outstanding running back Marcus Dupree and Ole Miss basketball star Eugenia Conner. A statewide selection committee representing all facets of Mississippi sports completed the voting.
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Bob Braddy, Sr. – The winningest coach in SWAC history, Braddy of Florence, MS compiled a record of 824 – 546 – 3. He served as the first full-time baseball coach in Jackson State history and took the program from NAIA to NCAA Division I. His teams won 12 SWAC titles and appeared in four NCAA Regional Tournaments. 52 of his players signed professional contracts and two were 1st round draft picks. Braddy also served as Athletic Director from 2006 through 2011. He was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2016.
Eugenia Conner –Conner, a Gulfport native, lead her Harrison Central basketball team to four consecutive Class 2A State titles before going on to play for Hall of Fame Coaches Van Chancellor and Peggie Gillom-Granderson at Ole Miss. She was All-SEC for four years and took the Rebels to four straight NCAA appearances. Her college team’s record was 106-20 and she was 155-9 while in high school. After playing pro ball in Europe, Gina returned to Gulfport to work with children and the poor. Conner passed away in 1994 at the young age of 30, but she touched many lives while she was here.
Rick Cleveland – Ten-time MS Sportswriter of the Year, Cleveland began writing while in grade school with his father and Hall of Famer Ace Cleveland in his hometown of Hattiesburg. He worked his way through high school and college covering sports for the Hattiesburg American. After graduating from USM, Rick came to Jackson and started a long run as writer-columnist-editor for the Clarion-Ledger. Rick served as the second Executive Director of the MS Sports Hall of Fame for four years. He recently returned to full-time writing with Mississippi Today. Cleveland is the most decorated sports writer in Mississippi history and has authored four books.
Marcus Dupree – A legendary high school running back from Philadelphia, MS, Dupree was one of the most highly sought players in the country. He finished his high school carrier with 5,284 yards rushing and an 8.3-yard per carry average with 87 TDs breaking Hershel Walker’s national high school record. The two-time Clarion-Ledger Mr. Football chose to attend Oklahoma. He was the Fiesta Bowl MVP and 1st Team All-Big Eight Conference after his freshman season. After transferring to Southern Miss, Dupree signed a contract with the USFL and put up impressive numbers before an injury in his second season cut short a promising career. Inspired by Walter Payton, he signed with the Rams five years later for two seasons. Dupree has been the subject of nationally recognized documentaries including Willie Morris’ The Courting of Marcus Dupree and the ESPN “30 for 30” series.
Leslie Frazier – Frazier has excelled in athletics at every level starting early in high school earning 9 letters at Stephen D. Lee in Columbus, three each in baseball, basketball and football. Highly recruited, Frazier chose Alcorn State University and was an All- SWAC selection in baseball and in football under Hall of Fame coach Marino Casem. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears in 1981 where he teamed up with fellow Hall of Famers Walter Payton and Tyrone Keys to win Super Bowl XX. His coaching career began at small Trinity International University and has been extremely successful including winning Super Bowl XLI as a coach for the Indianapolis Colts. Frazier served as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 2010 to 2013 and currently works for the Baltimore Ravens as a defensive backs coach.
Jay Powell – Powell hails from Collinsville, MS where he attended high school at West Lauderdale. Powell won a State Championship as a player both pitching and playing in the field. He attended Mississippi State University where he was used as both a starter and relief pitcher. When he left State he was second on the all-time saves list with 17. He was only the fourth 1st round pick in the MLB Draft from MSU, joining B.J. Wallace and Hall of Famers Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro. He pitched in the major leagues for 11 years and was the winning pitcher for the Florida Marlins in their game seven victory in the 1997 World Series. Since retiring to the Jackson area, he has served as head baseball coach at Jackson Academy where he added an MAIS State crown to his collection.
The Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Induction Weekend will be held August 4-5, 2017. The weekend’s events include the Drawdown of Champions at the Museum on Friday night, Meet the Inductees at the Museum Saturday morning, and the formal enshrinement and banquet on Saturday evening at the Jackson Convention Complex.