COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - For the last few days, Dawn Staley’s six new roster additions have been getting accustomed to life with their new program.
Zia Cooke, Laeticia Amihere, Brea Beal, Destiny Littleton, Aliyah Boston, and Olivia Thompson all met with the local media on Tuesday. Now, the new Gamecocks are enjoying getting acclimated to their new home.
“It’s been pretty well,” said freshman forward Aliyah Boston. “It’s been three weeks so far and I’m still enjoying getting used to everything.”
The six players made up the top recruiting class in the country for South Carolina. For them, the expectation of being the best players in the country is something they embrace without hesitation.
“For me, there’s no pressure,” said freshman guard Zia Cooke, “and I’m sure there’s no pressure for them as well. We’re just going to do what we have to do. We all work hard. We’re a very hardworking team. I feel like, if you work hard and you have very good talent, then everything else will fall in place.”
While they understand the game is a little faster and a little more physical than what they’re used to, they’ve had help from the veterans who have taught them how to adjust.
“The older players, they help a lot,” said freshman guard Brea Beal. “They understand that it’s a learning process. We just added six new people to our team and it’s like a whole new team and they understand that. So, during practice, they’re able to break stuff down. Sometimes, we do mess up and they’re there to cheer you on because they’ve been there before. So, that’s good.”
Each of the players may have different reasons behind why they ultimately ended up at South Carolina, but they each cite how players and coaches have remained genuine from the moment they met them.
“It was pretty obvious for me when I got on my visit,” said freshman forward Laeticia Amihere. “Like I said, the realness of the staff, they don’t sugarcoat anything and that’s what I need. Real toughness to grow my game.”
Destiny Littleton may not be a freshman, but the process of getting used to her new team puts her in that frame of mind.
“I’m kind of a freshman again when it comes to the system,” Littleton said, “but at the end of the day, it’s basketball still. That’s kind of been my biggest transition because all the other stuff is the same. The academics comes with it. The team, honestly, they’ve made it a lot easier. I didn’t think it was going to be this easy transitioning to a whole new team. They don’t even think of me as a transfer. They have open arms.”
For freshman guard Olivia Thompson, this area has essentially always been home. The former Lexington Wildcat is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from her hometown. Having the chance to play in her own backyard is something she’s definitely looking forward to.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Thompson. “It’s really exciting. Sometimes, I’m just blown away by how blessed I am to be in this position and to be here. It’s a new day every day and I’m very excited.”