High School Basketball

Clemson signee earns SC’s top girls’ basketball honor for 2019

Watch: Clemson signee Danae McNeal highlights at MLK Bash

Swansea senior and Clemson signee Danae McNeal had 26 points, 12 rebounds, 6 steals and 5 blocks in 44-25 win over Dreher at MLK Bash
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Swansea senior and Clemson signee Danae McNeal had 26 points, 12 rebounds, 6 steals and 5 blocks in 44-25 win over Dreher at MLK Bash

Danae McNeal has performed like the state’s best player for the past three seasons and was honored for it Friday.

The Swansea senior and Clemson signee was named the SC Gatorade Player of the Year. McNeal is the 15th girls’ player from the Midlands since they started the award in 1986.

McNeal averaged 24.5 points, 12.6 rebounds, 4.7 steals, 4.0 assists and 3.4 blocks per game this season in helping the Tigers to the third round of the playoffs before losing to state champion Bishop England.

“I knew we had something special when we were about in the second grade,” Swansea head coach and McNeal’s mom Tamara Perdue said earlier this season. “She would pick up the ball in Monroe-Pinckney recreation Center and would play with the boys. She told me from an early age that she wanted to play college basketball. I told her if she put God first put in the work that she can accomplish it. She’s done that in the classroom and on the court.”

The 6-foot guard averaged a double-double over her past three seasons and finished her career with 2,641 points, 10th most in state history. McNeal is ranked as the 47th-best player in the country by ESPNW rankings.

McNeal was a three-time Class 3A Player of the Year and four-time all-state selection. She was picked to play in the Carolinas All-Star Classic later this month and will play in the Columbia All-Star senior game Saturday at Heathwood Hall.

“Danae McNeal plays at a very high level. She’s long, tall and very athletic. She’s got a great inside-outside game, and her basketball IQ is very high. She makes everyone around her better,” Bluffton coach Lonnie Roberts said.

In addition to her basketball, McNeal has maintained a B average in the classroom and volunteered in various activities including Special Olympics and youth sports programs.

SC Gatorade Players of Year from Midlands

2019 – Danae McNeal, Swansea

2017 – Jaelynn Murray, Dreher

2016 – Jhileiya Dunlap, Dreher

2014 – A’ja Wilson, Heathwood Hall

2013 – Alaina Coates, Dutch Fork

2012 – Asia Dozier, Spring Valley

2011 – Xylina McDaniel, Spring Valley

2009 – Morgan Stroman, Lower Richland

2008 – Morgan Stroman, Lower Richland

2007 – Morgan Stroman, Lower Richland

2004 – Keturah Jackson, Dreher

2000 – Nikki Jett, Columbia

1997 – Elena Vishniakova, Heathwood Hall

1992 – Natalie Funderburk, Camden

1989 – Jessica Barr, Batesburg-Leesville

Lou Bezjak is the High School Sports Prep Coordinator for The State and Island Packet. He has covered high school sports in South Carolina for 16 years and is a two-time South Carolina Sports Writer of the Year by the National Sports Media Association.