After conversation with Staley, Mikiah “kiki” Herbert Harrigan back on team
South Carolina women’s basketball will return one of its key pieces from last season after all, as forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan plans to withdraw her name from the transfer portal and stay with the team, a program spokesperson confirmed Wednesday.
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. Her decision to transfer became public April 9 after meeting with coach Dawn Staley for the program’s annual post-season meetings.
After speaking with Herbert Harrigan and her family this past Tuesday, Staley said she and the rising senior talked through some issues and agreed to have her return.
“Kiki and I and her family had a really great discussion on how we move forward and how we got to the place where she wanted to transfer,” Staley said in a press conference. “So the conversation was great and our program is healthy, contrary to what some people may believe. It’s healthy. It’s in a place where we’re thriving, it’s in a place where everyone that continues to be a Gamecock, their dreams will come true.”
Herbert Harrigan is fifth in program history in career blocked shots. While she has struggled with consistency throughout her time in Columbia, she has been 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.
“I anticipate Kiki to have an incredible season,” Staley said. “I think she’s one of the best players in our conference on both sides of the ball. There’s room for her to grow. Obviously her handle has to get better going both ways. She’s very strong going right. We got to work that left hand in order for her to balance out what she’s doing from driving right.
“Her midrange is great, her 3 ball is pretty consistent when she shoots it. Defensively, I just think she needs to work a little bit harder, not just getting blocked shots, because that’s a form of defense, but it’s not the total package when it comes to defending. So we have to bump her up in those areas and get her ready to be drafted in the WNBA draft next year.”
Herbert Harrigan’s return gives USC 10 scholarship players for next year’s roster as the Gamecocks welcome the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, including four five-star prospects.
It is the second time in two years Carolina has had a player reverse her decision to transfer — guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore announced that she would transfer to West Virginia last offseason, only to later change her mind and return to Columbia.
Cuevas-Moore and Herbert Harrigan are best friends, but the situations that led to their respective returns were very different, Staley said.
Three other Gamecocks are still set to transfer — guard Te’a Cooper, forward LaDazhia Williams and guard Bianca Jackson, who announced Tuesday that she would be landing at Florida State. Coach Dawn Staley said Wednesday that there is no possibility of any of those players returning.
“We won’t revisit with any other player that decided to leave. We’re gonna move forward with the people who really expressed that they want to be Gamecocks,” Staley said.