USC Women's Basketball

Gamecocks losing 3, including veteran Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, to transfer

Forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, forward LaDazhia Williams and guard Bianca Jackson all intend to transfer from the South Carolina women’s basketball team, a spokesperson for the program confirmed Tuesday.

Of the trio, Herbert Harrigan was expected to play the biggest role for coach Dawn Staley’s team in 2019-2020. While she struggled with consistency throughout her time in Columbia, she was particularly effective in postseason play — she was named a member of the SEC All-Tournament team as a sophomore while helping the Gamecocks to a conference title, and she averaged 17 points in the SEC and NCAA tournaments this past season.

Herbert Harrigan will leave the program fifth on the career blocks list, with 152 swats. She led the team with 71 blocked shots this past season, sixth most by any player in program history.

“Mikiah made a personal decision,” Miguel Diaz, program director of the Miami Suns, Herbert Harrigan’s high school travel team, told The State. “She is grateful for her three years at South Carolina and is thankful to the coaching staff and the players and extremely grateful to all of Gamecock Nation.”

Herbert Harrigan averaged 10.4 points per game in 33 appearances and 21 starts this past season and was widely expected to be a key player for USC in the 2019-2020 season. According to a tweet posted by SUTS Report, a scouting service in Herbert Harrigan’s home state of Florida, she will not be a grad transfer and will have to sit out a season wherever she goes.

Jackson, who was pressed into a starting role as a freshman due to injuries, saw her playing time regress somewhat as a sophomore. After starting 25 games, averaging 7.3 points and earning SEC All-Freshman honors as a rookie, she started just five games this past season and averaged just 4.0 points per contest.

Williams, a former five-star recruit in the class of 2017, played sparingly in her two seasons in Columbia, appearing in 48 games and starting none while averaging 6.2 minutes per contest. In her limited minutes, she averaged 1.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 0.28 blocks per game.

Jackson made 41 3-pointers as a freshman, leading the team, but saw both her field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage dip in her sophomore season. Her mother, Freda Freeman-Jackson, is head coach at Alabama State, whom USC played to open the season.

How Jackson would have fit in the team’s rotation moving forward as the Gamecocks prepare to welcome the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation was unclear.

That No. 1 recruiting class, considered by analysts to be one of the best in the sport’s recent history, features three McDonald’s All-Americans in guard Zia Cooke, wing Brea Beal and forward Aliyah Boston, along with a top-10 ranked player in forward Laeticia Amihere. Preferred walk-on and in-state sharpshooter Olivia Thompson rounds out the class.

South Carolina’s core returning players are now senior guards Tyasha Harris and Te’a Cooper, along with sophomores Victaria Saxton and Destanni Henderson. The Gamecocks are also losing four players — including starters Cuevas-Moore and Alexis Jennings — to graduation.

USC advanced to its sixth consecutive Sweet 16 this past season and will likely open the 2019-2020 season as a contender for the SEC championship. The team now has 10 scholarship players.

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.