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Lusia Harris: The Only Woman Drafted By an NBA Team

Lusia Harris


Lusia Harris, a 6'3" Center from Delta State University, was officially the first and only woman drafted by an NBA team. The word 'officially is bolded as before Harris, Denise Long, a 5'11" Forward, was chosen by the San Franciso Warriors in the 1969 NBA Draft in the 13th round. However, then commissioner, Walter Kennedy, vetoed the pick as the league didn't allow women to play.

On the other hand, Harris' pick wasn't vetoed. Harris was chosen by the New Orleans Jazz (now Utah Jazz) in the 1977 NBA Draft as the 137th pick. However, Harris showed no interest in playing in the NBA as she was pregnant. Harris expressed shock when she found out, thinking it was a joke, stating, "drafted by a Men's team?"

Looking back at this pick, the Jazz might have chosen Harris as a publicity stunt. From 1974-83, the Jazz had a negative regular-season record, and their only notable player was Pete Maravich. The Jazz also constantly faced financial problems. The city had an 11% amusement tax, the highest in the United States, and couldn't find local corporate support.

In addition, the 1977 NBA Draft was filled with unusual draft picks. After the Jazz chose Lusia Harris, the Sacramento Kings chose Bruce Jenner (now known as Caitlyn Jenner)! Even weirder, the Los Angeles Lakers tried to draft Scooby-Doo and a chair...

Even if this was just a publicity stunt, this pick was revolutionary and a positive step forward for gender equality and women's empowerment. This pick was amid the Women's Rights Movement (i.e., second-wave feminism). In addition, if the Jazz were 'serious' in choosing a player to add onto their roster, Lusia Harris was probably their best choice.

After Lusia Harris, there were still 33 picks left. Amongst the 33 picks, only four of them played in the NBA: Lars Hansen (151st Pick), Ralph Drollinger (152nd Pick), Ricky Marsh (165th Pick), and John Olive (168th Pick). Out of the four, the best player, Lars Hansen, only played one season and averaged:

5.1 Points, 3.9 Rebounds, 0.9 Assists, 0.1 Steals, 0.1 Blocks (and 1.9 Personal Fouls)

50.9 FG%, 58.1 FT%

14 Minutes

However, back to reality, although Harris would dominate the WNBA, it would be a different story in the NBA. Her skillset as a 6'3" Center is not going to translate well into the NBA.

Harris probably wouldn't have been able to play in the NBA with her skillset. She would have dominated in the WNBA, but being 6'3" with the skillset of a Center is not going to translate into the NBA. The average height of a Center was 6'10"! There's no way she could have outrebounded or posted up any of the Centers back in the 70s (ex: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Artis Gilmore, Dave Cowens, etc.).

Regardless of whether or not Lusia Harris would have been good in the NBA, what we do know is that she was a beast in college and overseas.


Lusia Harris and Delta State University

Before getting into Lusia Harris' college basketball career with Delta State University, we should quickly glance at Harris' high school basketball career. Harris played at Amanda Elzy High School under Coach Conway Stewart. According to Harris, Stewart helped master her post-game, which helped counterbalance her lack of dribbling and passing skills.

During her time at Amanda Elzy High School, Harris won MVP three times in a row (1971-73), was the team captain, and made the Mississippi All-Star team! In one game, she scored 46 POINTS and led her school to the state tournament!

After high school, Harris initially wanted to attend Alcorn State University. However, Melvin Hemphill, the recruiter for the head coach of Delta State Universit