USC Women's Basketball

One of Dawn Staley’s five-star 2019 recruits is enrolling at USC a semester early

One member of South Carolina women’s basketball’s highly touted recruiting class of 2019 will get a head start on her Gamecock career, as five-star forward Laeticia Amihere is enrolling at USC early, the program announced Monday.

Amihere’s senior season was cut short by an injury, the team said, and as a result, the Canadian star will move to Columbia and work on her rehab with the program’s medical staff starting this spring semester. She will not play this season.

Amihere is rated as the No. 10 overall prospect in her class by ESPN. She missed her junior season of high school basketball after tearing her ACL, but she has drawn rave reviews from scouts for her explosive athleticism and gone viral on social media thanks to her dunking ability.

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“It was definitely hard to hear that Laeticia had her senior season cut short, but she is a person who makes the best of any situation so we’re excited that she’s decided to join our program earlier than expected,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said in a statement. “I have to give credit to Laeticia, her family and our athletics department and University staff for embracing this idea and working to put the pieces in place so quickly to make it possible for her to get here this week.”

The spring semester at South Carolina began Jan. 14.

Amihere has played for the senior Canadian national team in exhibitions and for the U17 and U19 teams in international tournaments. She was part of the All-Tournament team at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup, alongside current Gamecock Tyasha Harris.

Amihere was on the bench for South Carolina’s win over Missouri on Monday. Afterward, Staley declined to clarify the exact nature of Amihere’s injury, other than saying it was season-ending. The primary reason she enrolled early, Staley said, was to keep her academics and rehab in the same place.

“It was a small window of opportunity for her to get here. She did a lot of work. She did a lot of schoolwork. Part of it was she’s a good student and she was done on some of her core courses and she had to finish up some other courses to get here. So her rehab will be in one place. ... Her rehab at home would have been just too much travel and too hard for her to do that and school, but here, if it’s in one place, I think it will be beneficial for her to just be around us. She’s probably going to graduate in three years because of being here this semester,” Staley said.

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.