Head Coach Paul Allen Duke
Paul Allen Duke is heading into his 24th season as head coach of the Mississippi College Lady Choctaws. In 22 seasons, Duke has an impressive 365-221 (.623) record.
The Lady Choctaws fought through early injuries at the beginning of the 2017-18 season to finish 9-17 overall and 5-15 in the Gulf South Conference. MC had six games decided by 10 points or less with four games coming within 5 points or less. 5 games in conference play were decided by 10 points or fewer.
Freshman Lauran Sheriff led the team with 18 games in double figures during her debut season. Sheriff started all 26 games during her debut season – which ranks fourth among single-season leaders. The Jackson, Miss., native also averaged 28.7 minutes – which is fifth in program history.
Senior Kelley Allen finished in her two-year career ranked in the top 10 in career steals average and blocked shot average.
MC went 12-14 during the 2016-17 season and 9-13 in Gulf South Conference play, missing the conference tournament by one game. The nine conference wins were the most by the program since its return to Division II.
The Lady Choctaws went 5-20 during the 2015-16 season with Gulf South Conference wins at Valdosta State and against North Alabama and West Georgia. The 91 points in the win vs. UNA was the most since the Navy and Gold scored 101 against Centenary College in 2012. The win at VSU marked the first in Valdosta, Ga., since 1993.
Kristen Sampson finished her two-year career with her name etched into the record book. The Jackson, Miss., native is ranked in the top 10 in career scoring percentage (13.7 ppg), 3-point field goals made (68), attempted (177) and percentage (38.4). Sampson finished in the top 10 in 3-point field goals made (39) and percentage (40.3) among single-season leaders.
Chloe Roberts is tied for eighth in 3-point field goals made during her debut season with 31 while Carla Clemmons' 48 blocks are tied are second among single-season leaders and seventh in career rejections.
MC posted an 8-18 record in 2014-15, including four wins in the Gulf South Conference over Christian Brothers, West Florida, Shorter and in-state foe Delta State. Junior Kristen Sampson was named to the NCCAA All-MidEast Region Team while Lauren Bethly, Mollie Blair, Tori Earnhart, Allie Hill, Khadijah Jones, Zaneta Kubicka, Shaniqua Love and Sampson were all tabbed to the GSC Winter Academic Honor Roll.
The Lady Choctaws went through their last season in Division III and the American Southwest Conference in 2013-14 as Coach Duke was a part of all 18 seasons in the league. Seniors Cara Beverin, Alexus Stirgus and Dominique Walker all earned All-ASC honors on the year.
The 2012-13 season was one that saw injuries really take a toll on Duke and the Lady Choctaws. Three season-ending injuries kept MC out of the ASC Tournament, snapping a streak of 10 consecutive years in the postseason. Seniors Traci Rodgers, Valeri Stewart and Ebony Williams were All-ASC selections following the season.
In the 2011-12 season, the Lady Choctaws made their 10th consecutive American Southwest Conference Tournament and 13th appearance in 14 tries. MC won 10 of their final 14 games to close the season with a 16-10 overall record, and Duke won his 300th career game. Elizabeth Brooks, Caitlin Brown, Ebony Williams, and Madelyn Cross each earned All-ASC honors.
The 2010-11 season saw Paul Allen lead the Lady Choctaws to their ninth consecutive ASC Tournament. The Lady Choctaws finished the season 17-9 overall and 12-8 in the ASC, which landed them the #3 seed in the ASC East. MC led the conference in field goal percentage (.480) and finished second in scoring (71.6 ppg) and three-point field goal percentage (.350). Jalessa Taylor, Randa Lee, and Jennifer Wair each earned All-ASC honors with Taylor being named First Team All-ASC and Wair earning East Division Defensive Player of the Year honors.
In 2009-10, Duke saw the Lady Choctaws qualify for the ASC Tournament and break the record for three-point attempts in a season with 368, with the previous record being 314. The Lady Choctaws went 10-1 at the “Golden Dome” and had four players named to All-ASC Teams, led by Jalessa Taylor with a First Team All-East Division selection. Jennifer Wair was named the ASC East Division Newcomer of the Year.
The 2008-09 season was arguably the most successful in Coach Duke’s career as the Lady Choctaws finished 22-5 and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. Coach Duke’s team finished first in the nation in field goal percentage (47.1) and three point field goal percentage (40.1). Rosemary Green was named to the All-ASC First Team, while Green and Anesia McBride were East Division First Team selections. Brittany Dukes, Casie Hilton and Anna Patterson also earned All-ASC honors.
In the 2007-08 season, Coach Duke led a team to the #2 seed in the ASC East after a 2-6 start to the year. For his efforts, Duke was named Tri-Coach of the Year as his team finished 15-11 with a trip to the ASC Tournament.
In the 2006-07 season, Duke became the all-time winningest coach in Mississippi College history with a 56-41 win over Louisiana College on January 16th in Pineville. The Lady Choctaws made an appearance in the conference tournament.
In 2005-06, Duke led the Lady Choctaws to a 19-7 season and their third American Southwest Conference East Division title in four seasons. The Lady Choctaws also made their ninth appearance in the ASC Championship Tournament in ten seasons.
In 2004-05, Duke led the Lady Choctaws to a 17-9 record and another appearance in the American Southwest Conference Championship Tournament.
The 2003-04 season saw the Lady Choctaws finish with an overall record of 22-4 and an American Southwest Conference Eastern Division title for the third time in four years. Duke coached his third ASC Player of the Year in Lacey Palomarez. Former players Chastidy Sandifer and Latoya Hopson also were recipient’s of the award under Duke’s leadership. Six players were selected to the conference All-Academic team, as well.
In 2002-03, Duke led the Lady Choctaws to a 22-4 season, an ASC East Division title and appearance in the ASC Tournament. Lacey Palomarez was the league’s choice as the ASC Freshman of the Year under Duke’s guidance.
During the 2001 season, Duke led the Lady Choctaws to a 20-5 season and a 15-3 record in ASC divisional play. The twenty-win season was the second for Duke at Mississippi College and the first since 1998. The Lady Choctaws won the ASC East Division and narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA tournament. That team had four different players selected to the ASC All-Conference team.
Under the direction of Duke, the Lady Choctaws claimed a share of the 1997-98 American Southwest Championship and finished with a 21-4 record. The Lady Choctaws began the 1998-99 season with a winning streak of 12 games and continued the streak through an impressive 27 games, the longest winning streak in the Lady Choctaw basketball history. That squad finished with a record of 18-7.
Duke has been named the American Southwest Conference East Division Coach of the Year in five seasons.
Coach Duke has made a habit of coaching players who finish the season receiving post-season honors. Before entering the NCAA Division III ranks, Duke had much success in the Gulf South Conference and at the NCAA Division II level. Duke had two players to make the All Gulf South Conference Team and one to make the All-South Regional Second Team.
Prior to becoming head coach, Duke served the university as the assistant women’s basketball coach for seven seasons. As assistant coach, Duke was part of the Lady Choctaws team that finished in the finals of the Gulf South Conference Championship Tournament. He also served as a graduate assistant under Mike Jones for one year.
Before arriving at Mississippi College, Duke coached at Woodland Hills in Jackson (1986-1987), at St. Andrews Episcopal School in Jackson (1980-1985), and at Sylva Bay High School before that where he served as the athletic director, head football coach, and head coach for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Duke has worked basketball camps all across the country. He has worked at North Carolina University (Dean Smith), Mississippi State University (Bob Boyd), Villanova University (Rollie Massimino), and Mississippi College (Mike Jones).
Duke attended Mississippi State University, where he played for one year, and completed his bachelor of science degree in 1976. He received a master of education degree at Mississippi College in 1987. Paul Allen is married to the former Cathy Lovvorn.