You Better Recognize: Dinkins' Career at Southern Miss
Brittanny Dinkins' senior season was one of the more prolific campaigns in Lady Eagle history. Dinkins scored the second most points in a single season (627), made the third-most field goals (245) and the second-most steals by any senior (106). The year's campaign also put the Miami native in the career records for most games played (134), sixth for all-time steals (281) and moved her career point total to tenth all-time (1,4600).
The season's success all began in Birmingham, Ala. when Southern Miss was defeated 64-46 by UAB in the first round 2016 C-USA Tournament. Dinkins knew she did not want to go out like that again.
"It left a bad taste in my mouth," Dinkins said.
Despite the loss, the bright spot was Dinkins' performance. She had scored a game-high 20 points on 53.3 percent shooting, lighting a fire.
"I knew, coming off of that, that something had to give," Dinkins said. "Going into my senior year, it was going to be all or nothing. I was not going to let anything like that happen again. I got a taste of being relied on in the UAB game."
Dinkins went into the summer to prepare for her senior year knowing that head coach Joye Lee-McNelis would give her more responsibility and that she would be turned to when the Lady Eagles were down. This was not anything new for Dinkins, who said that she has been looked upon since to lead and guide a team since junior high basketball.
Dinkins' senior season began and the Lady Eagles, after being picked to finish eighth in the pre-season poll, went 8-4 in a non-conference schedule that featured the eventual 2017 National Championship runner-up, Mississippi State, and Tulane, which would later advance to the third round of the WNIT. The team's non-conference schedule took Southern Miss to Las Vegas for the 2016 Las Vegas Classic.
The team would see No. 24 Cal, Xavier and Northern Kentucky. After going 1-1 in the first two days the team looked to rebound against Northern Kentucky, a team that was struggling and on paper was an underdog. The Lady Eagles came out flat and fell 58-53.
The Lady Eagles would also lose their next game, held nine days later, against LA Tech, and Dinkins recognized the feeling as something similar to what she felt after the UAB loss.
"There was a lot of adversity. I knew this feeling and I didn't like it. As a leader, you have to take the good and the bad. I wasn't scoring how I wanted to, and that was a problem. I told myself that I needed to show up or leave my team out to dry. I knew something was wrong so I started evaluating myself even more, it's something I've been doing since I got here."
This evaluation happens all the time in Dinkins' head. She's constantly thinking about what she can do to improve herself and the team. She'll also involve coaches and teammates in the self-evaluation during any spare time she might have.
"Brittanny is always finding ways to get better," said assistant coach Pauline Love. "Even if we won, and she scored a lot of points, she still wants to know what she can do to be better. She's committed to making herself better and she's willing to take in a lot of information with her."
Before her senior year Dinkins had a total of seven games where she scored 20 or more points. Her senior year saw 14 games of 20 or more points, including besting her career high of 28 points in back-to-back games. Dinkins also received accolades from Conference USA and was named to the All-Conference Team, All-Conference Defensive Team and was awarded the 2017 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year.
The other Lady Eagles noticed Dinkins and looked for her when sometimes they found felt like there wasn't much left in their tank.
"What she did was more about how she played," said junior Megan Brown. "We needed her to put buckets down and that's what she did. I can remember her saying, `I'm here.' To us that meant she came to ball. It's her Miami flavor, as I like to call it. She has a resilient work ethic and it goes off the court to the life that she lives. Things just fall in your favor when you live that way."
All in all, the Lady Eagles went 23-11 on the season, a major improvement from last year's 14-16 mark, and Dinkins felt like she consistently bettered herself, no matter what adversity she faced. "I went from being an only offensive player and coach saying, `I don't know where to put you because you don't know how to play defense.' to an outstanding senior year where I blossomed on both sides of the ball. Whatever minutes I played, and when my number was called, I made sure to show up."
Dinkins' hard work translated to showing up in the record books for 19 different statistical categories for single game, career and season achievements.