USC Women's Basketball

Why top-10 recruit’s ‘good rapport’ with Staley could be crucial for USC’s chances

Coach Dawn Staley talks about how the team looks without star A’ja Wilson

At a press conference following the University of South Carolina Gamecocks first practice, head coach Dawn Staley likes what she sees .
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At a press conference following the University of South Carolina Gamecocks first practice, head coach Dawn Staley likes what she sees .

Rickea Jackson didn’t want to get overly attached to many coaches in her recruiting process. But the staff at South Carolina, along with the fan support for USC’s program, left the top-10 recruit impressed after her official visit earlier this fall.

That’s according to Jackson’s longtime coach, Monique Brown, a teacher and coach at Detroit Edison Public School, where Jackson has won two Michigan state titles and been named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state.

Ranked ninth overall in the class of 2019 by ESPN and third by Prospects Nation, Jackson resembles the kind of player increasingly coveted by top programs — substantial length at 6-foot-2 along with a strong perimeter game that makes her a matchup nightmare on offense and capable of defending many positions on the other side of the floor.

“She’s improved on her ball handling and her outside shooting,” Brown said of Jackson. “She is continuing to put in work to get better at the perimeter as a player. She’s been in the post since an early age, and that has made her tough, so she’s a tough player getting to the basket, and she has developed a jump shot and a pull-up jump shot and a 3-point jump shot to expand her game.”

As a hybrid guard/forward, Jackson averaged 22.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in her junior year, and her versatility would seem to put her right in line with what USC coach Dawn Staley has said recently about embracing position-less basketball.

But Staley and the Gamecocks are far from alone in seeking Jackson’s commitment — along with the Gamecocks, there are six other schools she is still considering. She has taken official visits to Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi State and Louisville and unofficials to Ohio State and Rutgers.

Brown said she thinks Jackson will make a choice before the early signing period starting Nov. 14, but she doesn’t know for sure. And while the recruiting process has been stressful for Jackson, she also doesn’t want to rush the decision either, Brown said.

“The process became stressful of, going on her official visits because she liked them all and trying to figure out which one — it was, well I like this about this one and I like the same thing about a different school,” Brown said. “So just trying to figure the good things and the things she didn’t like or can live without was really tough for her. She’s a person that doesn’t like to say no, so she didn’t put out a list until very late of who she was going on visits to, and right now the schools still don’t really know who she’s going to pick, because she doesn’t want to tell anybody no.”

Brown also described Jackson as a person who takes time to open up to strangers but can be very outgoing around those she’s comfortable with — much like Staley have described herself in the past.

And from a personality standpoint, Jackson and the coaching staff at South Carolina, led by Staley, have clicked, especially during her official visit the weekend of Aug. 31, which the high school senior “loved,” Brown said.

“I think she has a very good rapport with the coaches. ... That’s another thing, that she didn’t want to get close to a lot of coaches because she knew she was only going to be able to pick one. So for her to say that, to say she has a good rapport with (USC’s) coaches, and she likes the system and she loves the fan base. She loved the attention that women’s basketball receives at South Carolina.”

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