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Former Gamecock may return to SEC

Jordan Jones might be returning to Columbia ... as a member of another SEC team.

South Carolina’s leading scorer last season said she plans to visit a couple of SEC and ACC schools after being released from her scholarship at USC last weekend.

“Let’s just say I might end up playing in the Colonial Center again one day,” Jones said Tuesday in a phone interview.

Asked if she is considering Georgia, the Atlanta-area native said, “We’ll see.”

Jones, a freshman guard who averaged 13.1 points in her only season with the Gamecocks, offered few specifics about the reason for her departure, which came less than a week after former Temple coach Dawn Staley was announced as Susan Walvius’ successor.

“I think Dawn Staley is a great hire for South Carolina, and there’s no doubt in my mind she’s going to be successful there because she’s been successful everywhere else,” Jones said. “But when I sat down and talked with my family and people who know me best, we all decided it would be best for me to move on and finish my career somewhere else.”

Jones was hesitant to discuss her decision in detail, but said her relationship with Walvius and the former coach’s staff played a part. Jones was a member of the top-20 2006-07 recruiting class signed by Walvius, who resigned under pressure in April following 11 seasons.

“It’s no secret I had a good relationship with the coaches, and of course you want to play for coaches who recruited you,” Jones said. “It’s hard losing a coach you’re close with and then having to go through the recruiting process again.”

The 5-foot-9 Jones started 31 of 32 games last season, setting a USC freshman record with 97 3-pointers. A 40 percent 3-point shooter, Jones broke the school record with nine triples in a win against North Carolina A&T in the first round of the WNIT.

Jones credited Staley and USC’s administration for handling her transfer request in a “first class” manner. She hopes to choose her new school in the next couple of weeks.

After sitting out one season, Jones will have three years of eligibility remaining.

“College is such a short time. I only have three years left to play. I didn’t want to regret not making a change at this point,” Jones said. “I have some good opportunities ahead of me, just like South Carolina has some good opportunities ahead of them. ... Unfortunately, I won’t be a part of it.”

Staley finalizes staff. Staley’s first USC staff includes two of her former Temple assistants — Lisa Boyer and Carla McGhee — and ex-Western Kentucky aide Nikki McCray, who played with Staley in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. McGhee also was a member of the ’96 Olympic team. Staley mentioned the hires previously, but announced them officially Tuesday.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.