David Cloninger

All things Gamecocks, especially basketball and football

Huge weekend on tap for Staley, Gamecocks

11/01/2013 2:51 PM

11/01/2013 2:53 PM

“Well, you work real hard,
Until every part is sold.”
-------------------- THE MONKEES

Dawn Staley has always been a master of the recruiting trail. If she couldn’t find the five-stars and highly ranked players, she could always find the players that she could relate to, the ones that channeled her toughness into doing what was best for Temple, then South Carolina.

The joining of toughness and talent is at hand this weekend. If Staley can summon every last bit of salesmanship that she’s every heard or issued, the Gamecocks could stand to come away with a recruiting class that will be the envy of the country.

If you missed today’s story (Here), USC is hosting two outstanding prospects this weekend. Jatarie White and Shakayla Thomas, each ranked in the nation’s Top 12, are visiting and could make a decision by weekend’s end.

If they don’t, they still plan to commit in the early signing period, which begins on Nov. 13. Staley, who has already picked up three verbal commitments from recruits all within the nation’s top 105 players, is hoping to add White and Thomas. The Gamecocks are planning to sign six players, and that extra spot is being held for No. 1 national recruit A’ja Wilson, should she pledge to USC.

White and Wilson have a close relationship, which could key into each’s decision. White has already visited Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas and North Carolina (last weekend, along with Wilson), and Wilson, just across town, will doubtless be able to hang out with her pal sometime this weekend. While Wilson won’t sign until the spring – she is shutting down a lot of her recruiting to concentrate on her senior season, and will take her final three official visits in the spring before committing – White will make her decision by Nov. 20.

I spoke with Wilson after her visit to Connecticut two weeks ago, and asked about White. Her reply:

“We go way back. We’re really close. We just went to the fair together two weekends ago. We’ve always said it would be great if we can play together. We’re looking for the best fit for the both of us. I would love to play with Jatarie.”

I’ll just let you read that again and make your own judgment on how much emphasis Staley is putting into landing White.

What kind of player is White?

What her coach, Josh Springer, had to say other than the comments in today’s paper:

“She’s really maintained an even keel, has a great maturity for the whole process. Her junior year GPA was higher than ever been, and we’re expecting that trend to continue. She’s been able to find that great balance. She had an even greater impact off the floor. I think her leadership skills have really blossomed over the last couple of years. She loves watching games, the NBA, WNBA. She tries incorporating those things into her game. She has some things to work on, but she has a very strong work ethic. She passes the ball unbelievably well and shares the ball willingly.”

And Thomas? Coach Derrick Crawford spoke:

“She’s 5-11, most people say 6-foot. I play her in multiple positions, depending on what she’s going to face. She can play 2-3-4. She fits the scheme, and is a great rebounder. She got over 2,000 rebounds going into this season, which is a state record. She actually broke it as a junior.”

Thomas is also an explosive player, having already scored over 3,000 points in her career and standing with a good chance to rank in the Top 5 of Alabama’s all-time prep leaders.

Bianca Cuevas, Kaydra Duckett and Doniyah Cliney make up what is already a strong recruiting class. Getting two more over the next few weeks would make it a Top-10 class, potentially a Top-5.

If the Gamecocks get Wilson in the spring?

Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but you do the math.

Stay tuned at the end of this weekend. If Staley and the Gamecocks get some good news, you’ll read it here first, just like you did when Cuevas and Cliney committed last week.

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