Top prospect reaffirms commitment to USC

Despite the departure of star Kelsey Bone, Brewer says her mind has not changed

jperson@thestate.comApril 1, 2010 

The women's basketball prospect who spent last weekend with Kelsey Bone on a recruiting trip to South Carolina had no clue Bone planned to transfer - but she said it would not affect her decision to come to USC.

Kayla Brewer, a 6-foot-2 forward from Jacksonville, Fla., said she was "in shock" after learning Wednesday that Bone plans to leave USC after one season.

"I didn't get any indication that she was going to do this," Brewer said Thursday in a phone interview.

Brewer, ranked among the top 10 Class of 2011 prospects by one recruiting service, plans to sign with the Gamecocks on April 14, the first day of the spring signing period. She is graduating from high school a year early and will enroll at USC this summer.

"I wish (Bone) the best, but it hasn't changed my decision at all," Brewer said. "I'm excited about coming to South Carolina."

Bone, The Associated Press' Newcomer of the Year in the SEC this season, sent shockwaves through the women's basketball world this week with her decision to bolt after playing one year.

Bone has yet to explain why she is leaving or where she plans to transfer, although her mother said Thursday that Bone plans to make a public statement in the next few days.

"This is an 18-year-old kid, and there are a lot of adults involved in this issue right now," said Kim Williams, who moved to Columbia from Houston last year to be close to her daughter. "We're really just trying to make sure we work through it the right way."

Williams said Bone is weighing her transfer options, but would not say which schools she is considering. USC coach Dawn Staley said she would not release Bone to another SEC school and would evaluate other programs on a case-by-case basis.

Bone, a 6-foot-5 center, led the SEC in rebounding and was among the conference's top-10 scorers in her lone season at USC. Ranked the nation's No. 2 prospect last year by ESPNU/HoopGurlz, Bone picked the Gamecocks over Illinois, Texas and Texas A&M, saying she wanted to help Staley build a tradition at USC.

But Staley indicated Bone might have been frustrated with the Gamecocks' failure to reach the postseason. USC (14-15) lost five of its final six games and missed an NCAA tournament bid for the seventh consecutive year.

Bone served as Brewer's recruiting host in Columbia last weekend. Brewer said she and Bone had several meals together, went to the movies and attended the Gamecocks' football scrimmage at Williams-Brice Stadium.

"I thought she had it made in South Carolina," Brewer said. "Everybody loved her. That's the vibe that I got - that they loved having her there."

Brewer said she and Bone had established a good relationship. But Brewer said Bone needed to follow her heart.

"If she doesn't want to be there, don't be there. Because you don't want anybody there that's not happy," Brewer said. "She's a great player. It's a loss, but life goes on and you just have to win games. Just because somebody's leaving doesn't mean that you shut down. You have to go on."

Brewer, who is No. 8 on the ESPNU/HoopGurlz national list, averaged 15 points, 14 rebounds and 6.7 blocks per game this past season at Robert E. Lee High in Jacksonville. She said her high school coach fielded calls from coaches at Auburn, Georgia, Georgia Tech and South Florida on Wednesday asking whether Brewer was re-opening her recruiting in light of Bone's transfer.

But Brewer said she is sticking with USC.

"Her decision hasn't altered any of my opinions," she said. "I still feel we can do great things at South Carolina."

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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