USC Women's Basketball

Dawn Staley’s 2019 recruiting class is ranked in top 5 by ESPN — and could get better

On the eve of the early signing period for women’s basketball, South Carolina and Dawn Staley are on a tear, in their best spot since A’ja Wilson picked the Gamecocks in 2014, according to ESPN.

The Worldwide Leader released its first recruiting class rankings for 2019 on Tuesday and had USC slotted at No. 5 with its current crop of three 2019 players — five-stars Zia Cooke and Breanna Beal, both in ESPN’s top 15 for the class, and preferred walk-on Olivia Thompson, a three-star.

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“We find South Carolina with the top class in the SEC and in the running for top class in the nation,” ESPN’s Dan Olson wrote of the Gamecocks’ commits.

Olson’s rankings could change dramatically depending on what happens Wednesday, the first day players can officially sign with programs. Rickea Jackson and Laeticia Amihere, both top-10 recruits, are slated to announce their college picks then, and both have South Carolina among their final three — Amihere is also considering Louisville and Kentucky, Jackson has Mississippi State and Rutgers.

If Staley manages to snag both recruits, it would mark the first time since 2014, Wilson’s class, that USC has four top-100 commits. The program has never had four top-20 recruits in one class.

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South Carolina also remains among the finalists for two top-rated players who have yet to set commitment dates — No. 1 Haley Jones and No. 3 Alyiah Boston.

Theoretically, the Gamecocks could take them all — they have up to six scholarships available in the class, potentially seven if redshirt junior guard Te’a Cooper decides to leave for the WNBA after the 2018-2019 season.