South Carolina Basketball: New Gamecock makes ESPN’s top transfers list

South Carolina basketball. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
South Carolina basketball. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

Dawn Staley’s South Carolina basketball team will look a lot different on the court in the 2023-2024 season than it did last year. Aliyah Boston, Laeticia Amihere, Zia Cooke, Brea Beal, and Victaria Saxton were all drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft, Kierra Fletcher and Olivia Thompson graduated, and Talaysia Cooper left the program via the transfer portal.

Coach Staley and her coaching staff recruited well, bringing in three of the top high school recruits in the nation in MiLaysia Fulwiley, Tessa Johnson, and Sahnya Jah. They also brought in a couple of big-time transfer players.

One of these transfers, Te-Hina Paopao was selected by ESPN as one of the top portal additions in the entire country. Paopao, who has two years of eligibility remaining, was ranked as the 11th most important transfer of the upcoming season.

The former Oregon guard was a two-time All-Pac 12 selection and a sharpshooter playing on the West Coast, making over 42% of her shots from behind the 3-point arc. She likely will slide into the starting lineup, and her ability to play either guard spot will keep her on the floor in lineups that feature Raven Johnson or 5-star freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley as her backcourt running mate.

Paopao was one of two transfers for the Gamecocks this offseason. 6’5″ Sakima Walker, the 2022-2023 Junior College National Player of the Year, joined the South Carolina basketball program just a few weeks after Paopao and will get a lot of minutes in a forward group that lost three of its top four players from a season ago in Boston, Saxton, and Amihere.

There are still a number of questions surrounding Coach Staley’s new-look Gamecocks, but if Te-Hina Paopao and Sakima Walker can play at a high level, a lot of those questions will be answered, and South Carolina basketball will remain a national contender this season.

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