South Carolina Basketball: "Run it back;" Gamecock star announces return to Columbia for final year

South Carolina basketball star Te-Hina Paopao announces her return to the Gamecocks for a final year of eligibility.

South Carolina basketball guard Te-Hina Paopao
South Carolina basketball guard Te-Hina Paopao / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball guard Te-Hina Paopao has been part of the Gamecock Family for less than a year. The former Oregon Duck committed to Coach Dawn Staley under the promises that she would find a new family down South and that she would get better prepared for the professional game while wearing garnet and black.

That certainly has happened as she leads the country in 3-point percentage and has become a fan and team favorite in Columbia. She almost certainly would be a WNBA Draft pick if she were to leave school.

Paopao participated in Senior Day festivities on Sunday, but because of the "Covid Redshirt," she still had another year of eligibility if she elected to take it. As it turned out, she didn't wait long to make her decision. According to a message from Paopao's father, the sharpshooting guard plans to "Run it back."

In a video on her personal Twitter/X account, Te-Hina Paopao (with an assist from her dad) officially announced that she would be coming back next season for one last ride with the Gamecocks. Mr. Paopao said in the video that his daughter has found a place within the South Carolina basketball program that allowed her "to flourish, be happy, and revive her love for the game of basketball...T wants more...Coach, let's run it back."

The news comes as a huge boon to the 2024-2025 version of the South Carolina basketball team. Paopao is an elite shooter, and her presence on the floor makes so many other things happen for her teammates. She is also a big-time leader for the team, something that certainly will carry over into next season.

For this year, though, the Gamecocks are getting ready for the SEC Tournament that starts later this week. Then, the Big Dance comes, and Carolina is intent on finishing the job this season. A third national championship is within reach, and just knowing that Te-Hina Paopao will be around to help the team go for a potential fourth has to be a boost as the Madness of March begins.

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