USC Women's Basketball

Freshman Brewer leaves USC women’s team

Illinois forward Lana Rukavina (34) shoots around South Carolina forward Kayla Brewer (10) during the game at the Colonial Life Arena Monday.
Illinois forward Lana Rukavina (34) shoots around South Carolina forward Kayla Brewer (10) during the game at the Colonial Life Arena Monday. The State

The USC women’s basketball team lost one player, but got one back Friday.

For the second year in a row, a highly touted player has left the team.

The school announced Friday that freshman Kayla Brewer is leaving the team immediately. The 6-foot forward from Jacksonville, Fla., was rated the eighth best prospect in the country by ESPNU when she graduated high school a year early.

Coach Dawn Staley wished Brewer well, and the school did not give a reason for her decision.

"Kayla has made a decision that she feels is in her best interests at this time, and we wish her well," Staley said. "That said, the coaching staff and our current players will continue to focus on becoming a better basketball team every day and on achieving the goals we have set out for ourselves this season."

Brewer played in seven of eight games this season, averaging 1.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 14 minutes.

Another top recruit, 6-foot-5 Kelsey Bone, left the Gamecocks last spring to transfer to Texas A&M after being named the Southeastern Conference's newcomer of the year.

Meanwhile, senior guard Valerie Nainima is participating in practice this week, 4-1/2 months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL in her right knee, which she suffered in a pickup game in late July. The medical and coaching staffs have not indicated which game will be Nainima's first of the season.

"We are excited for Val to get back into full practices this week," Staley said. "She has been relentless in her rehab in order to get back to our team, and I look forward to seeing that attitude back out on the court. Val is one of our captains this season and has been a vocal leader from the sideline, but I think our team will benefit from her experience and leadership on the court even more." A second-team All-SEC selection by the league's coaches in 2009-10, Nainima was the Gamecocks' leading scorer at 17.0 ppg,ranking her fifth in the league. She was one of the nation's most prolific 3-point shooters, netting 2.8 per game from outside the arc to rank 17th in the country, and her 35.8 percent accuracy from long range was ninth-best in the SEC. Nainima made 81 3-pointers on the season to tie for fifth-most in Gamecock history. The team's leading scorer 15 times, she amassed 10 20-point games and reached double figures in all but two games of the season. The Gamecocks return to action on Sunday at 2 p.m. against N.C. State at Colonial Life Arena.