Dawn Staley was rather cheerful despite a not-sharp win over Louisiana Tech on Sunday.
The reason why was discovered afterward.
Forward Jatarie White, the top-ranked player at her position and the No. 7 recruit nationwide, verbally committed to Staley and South Carolina on Sunday following an unofficial visit, according to a source close to the program. White officially visited USC last week, but came back on Sunday and decided to end her recruitment.
White is expected to sign a national letter-of-intent at 9:45 a.m. on Friday at her high school, Providence Day School (N.C.) The signature is expected to join three other highly-ranked recruits, with the potential for one more during the early signing period.
The Gamecocks have verbal commitments from Kaydra Duckett, the No. 32 national recruit; Bianca Cuevas, the No. 44 national recruit; and Doniyah Cliney, the No. 105 national recruit. White is a Top-10 national recruit, and chose the Gamecocks over North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio State and Texas.
USC is hoping to get a pledge from the No. 12 national recruit as well. Guard Shakayla Thomas (Sylacauga, Ala.) officially visited USC along with White but also visited Alabama this past weekend. Thomas has scheduled a commitment ceremony for Thursday.
White is a 6-foot-4 forward and can add to the height that Staley has been accumulating. She can add to a front line of freshman Alaina Coates (6-4), junior Elem Ibiam (6-4) and junior Aleighsa Welch (6-0) next season.
“She’s 6-4, left-handed, really athletic. She has the skills to play all five positions on the court,” Josh Springer, White’s high school coach, recently said. “She handles the ball well, she’s an under-rated passer, very unselfish. She’s able to finish with her right or left hand in the paint. On the defensive end, we gave up the fewest points per game in our history last year. In a 12-game stretch, we gave up 21 points a game.”
Providence Day – where current Gamecock Tiffany Mitchell also played – has won four straight state championships and eight in nine years. White averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two steals last year.
“She’s really maintained an even keel, has a great maturity for the whole process,” Springer said. “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.”
White could also help land another national recruit, the biggest one of all. Top national recruit A’ja Wilson is very close with White and the two have spoken of playing together. Wilson has taken two official visits, to North Carolina and Connecticut, but is shutting down her recruiting until after her senior season at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School.
“We go way back. We’re really close. We just went to the fair together two weekends ago,” Wilson said in a recent interview. “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.”
Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState