Mississippi State women's basketball assistant Malikah Willis has been out for month. Here's why

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STARKVILLE — Mississippi State women’s basketball has been without assistant coach Malikah Willis for the past month and whether she will return to the program is unclear.

Willis was last on the bench for the Bulldogs during the Mississippi State MTE, a tournament from Dec. 18-20. After a loss to Troy on the opening day of the competition, a rift developed between interim coach Doug Novak and Willis, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

The sources requested anonymity because the athletic department has not made any announcement on Willis’ status. On Thursday, Mississippi State declined to comment, and Willis did not respond to request for comment. Novak also declined to comment.

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Willis was again absent for the Bulldogs’ matchup with No. 13 Georgia at Humphrey Coliseum on Thursday (6 p.m., SEC Network+).

Mississippi State has faced a coaching turnover since the end of last season. Coach Nikki McCray-Penson, who replaced Vic Schaefer in April 2020, revamped her staff after finishing her first season at 10-9, missing the NCAA Tournament.

Associate head coach Keith Freeman moved into a new role for the Bulldogs. Assistant coach Scepter Brownlee departed and recruiting coordinator Brittany Young became the coach at Austin Peay.

Tamisha Augustin, who was hired in April as an assistant and recruiting coordinator, departed in September to coach in the NBA G League. McCray-Penson hired Wesley Brooks from Michigan in April, although Brooks wound up as an assistant at Ohio State instead this offseason.

McCray-Penson also hired assistant coach Eddie Benton in June and announced the additions of Willis, Novak and director of recruiting Peggy Knight in September before McCray-Penson stepped down from her position in October to focus on her health.

With Willis out for the past month, Knight has assumed more of an assistant coaching role.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Mississippi State women's basketball assistant Malikah Willis absent for month

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