COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - When the spotlight hits the floor moments before tipoff, Carolina’s senior forward stands in position, waiting to greet her teammates.
Each Gamecock women’s basketball starter races out of the tunnel to meet LeLe Grissett. They arrive with a special greeting, ranging from a dance routine to a special handshake.
Carolina’s starting five might often receive the most shine from fans before and after games. However, Grissett is the diamond that shines brightest off the bench -- if one pays close enough attention to see it.
“She has a huge impact every time she comes in off the bench,” said Dawn Staley, Gamecock women’s basketball head coach.
Grissett provides the Gamecocks “comfort,” Staley mentions. She’s reliable and someone Staley believes could start. The value off the bench outweighs Grissett’s potential impact in the first five out.
“If I’m using my basketball expertise, she would be great coming off the bench for a WNBA team with the energy that she brings,” added Staley. “If we put her in the starting lineup and she starts feeling all types of pressure to perform, it could certainly be not as impactful as we want it to be. And, it might be disruptive.”
As the season progresses, Staley notices Grissett’s value even more. Carolina’s senior brings tremendous defensive presence, with a knack for scoring when she’s willing to engage in getting her shot.
“We’ve been trying to get her to score a little bit more, and she’s doing that for us,” said Staley.
Staley added: “What’s happening is, the light bulb kicked on. When it does that, she shines. Hopefully, she will continue to be that spark off the bench for us.”
This season, Grissett averages career-highs in points (7.1) and rebounds (4.5). But what matters more than minutes played or points scored: her approach, and commitment to the team.
“She is a tremendous example of waiting your turn,” Staley said. “Waiting for your turn turns into being an asset out there on the floor. She probably single-handily raises our play just by her approach to the game.”