USC Women's Basketball

How Dawn Staley is ‘stretching’ one Gamecock senior this offseason — with a book

For South Carolina women’s basketball, Mikiah Herbert Harrigan’s offseason got off to a whirlwind start, with the senior forward entering and then withdrawing her name from the transfer portal in the span of a few weeks in April.

Since then, however, things have been pretty quiet for Herbert Harrigan, who is set to be one of only two seniors for the Gamecocks in 2019-2020. While her classmate Tyasha Harris competed in the Pan American Games in Peru and USC welcomed the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class to campus, Herbert Harrigan turned 21 years old -- and done some serious growing behind the scenes, according to coach Dawn Staley.

“Kiki Harrigan, I think Kiki by far has made her biggest strides as far as growing up and maturing on and off the court,” Staley said at South Carolina’s My Carolina’s Gamecock Sports Preview event on Thursday. “So much so that she’s been a work in progress, but I’m trying to do something different for her, because she wants to be a pro, so I’m stretching her out a little bit.”

One of the ways Staley said she is pushing Herbert Harrigan is by giving her a book that the two of them will read together. The book, “Extreme Ownership,” was written by two former Navy SEALs, detailing how their experiences translate into life lessons about leadership for business and organizations.

“I’ve read the book already. I’m gonna read it again with her because I just feel like there are life nuggets in that book that will take her a long, long way as she continues to grow as a young lady and as a basketball player,” Staley said.

Throughout her first three seasons, Herbert Harrigan has flashed elite upside, especially in postseason settings, where she has averaged 17 points per game this past season. She has also become a fan favorite with her ability to thunderously block shots.

But Staley has noted on several occasions that Herbert Harrigan’s temper can get the better of her at times and held her out for the first half of an NCAA tournament game this past season.

Right now, though, Staley loves where Herbert Harrigan’s at mentally.

“She’s in great shape, something that she hadn’t been in three years. At this particular time she just looks like a seasoned vet,” Staley said.

As a result, Staley said she feels confident in the leadership of this year’s team, which features nine of 12 players with one or fewer years of experience at USC.

“We certainly have players that have been in our program long enough to know how our coaching staff likes to run things and we like to do things the right way, and we like to make decisions that are maybe unpopular but right,” Staley said. “So I feel very comfortable with Ty and Kiki especially.”


Also at Thursday’s event, Staley once again confirmed that USC will seek a waiver from the NCAA to grant transfer Destiny Littleton immediate eligibility, adding that “she’s got some history, she’s got a story behind that, so hopefully we can put a nice waiver package together to see if we can get her eligible to play this year.”

Staley also called Littleton an “X-factor” and stressed that South Carolina “needs” her on the floor this season.

Junior Lele Grissett, who has averaged 3.8 points in 67 career games with Carolina, will switch positions from forward to guard, Staley said Thursday. At 6-foot-2, she’ll be the largest guard on the Gamecocks’ roster.

“When we’ve had big guards, we’ve won a national championship, so we’re just trying to go back down memory lane and hopefully that helps us reach the pinnacle again,” 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.