NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Tennessee State guard and former East Nashville star Erica Haynes-Overton leads the Ohio Valley Conference in both scoring and points per game but before this season, she almost walked away from basketball.
Coming out of high school, Haynes-Overton was the No. 6 player in Tennessee. She would choose to suit up for East Tennessee State.
In three seasons at ETSU, Haynes-Overton racked up 1000 points and was named Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year, not once, but twice. She also garnered Freshman of the Year honors.
She believed it was time to take her career to another level and transferred to Kansas.
“I thought I could play on that stage,” Haynes-Overton said. “I still do think I can play on that stage and that was it. I just took a chance on myself.”
After having to sit out for NCAA transfer rules and a heartbreaking ACL injury, she found herself away from the court for nearly two seasons.
“When I left Kansas, I didn’t think I was going to play again,” said Haynes-Overton. “I had 20 plus colleges still reaching out. I wasn’t answering phone calls. I wasn’t texting people back. I didn’t want to play because those two years I sat out.”
That’s where TSU associate head coach Keisha McClinic came in. McClinic coached Haynes-Overton at East Tennessee. She was someone Erica could trust.
“We just had a conversation and I started out with, ‘this is not Coach Mac like to recruit you, this is Coach Mac to check on you,'” McClinic said. “We actually didn’t talk for probably about a month. A random text at night, she text and said let’s run it back. So I pick up the phone and I call and I say, ‘Erica, don’t play’.”
She’s not the loudest on the floor, but Haynes-Overton’s presence is electrifying. And, getting snubbed for OVC preseason awards has fueled her even more.
“I sat out for two years, [the OVC] probably thought I was an old head and I ain’t got it no more,” said Haynes-Overton. “I’ve always been overlooked. the underdog. So, it was just another task in front of me that I had to get through. Knowing that I wasn’t picked for anything, this made me hungrier.”
McClinic laughed, “We call her like our little pit bull. She got some dog in her and so basically she’s out for any challenge. So anything you tell her she can’t do, won’t do, she has that mentality that she’s going to prove it to you.”
And she’s been proving the doubters wrong with her hometown team at Tennessee State. The grad guard is averaging 14.7 points per game, putting up her season-high of 32 points in a win over Omaha on November 27, 2022.
“It’s pretty special,” said Haynes-Overton. “It’s another reason why I wanted to come home and do it for my city, and to go out like that.”
Haynes-Overton and the Tigers host E. Illinois Thursday, January 19. Tip off is set for 5:30 p.m.