Dawn Staley shares first impressions of South Carolina’s newest roster additions

South Carolina’s women’s basketball roster is mostly running it back after its national championship win, but the team does feature some new additions this season.

Head coach Dawn Staley spoke about the new players — one transfer and two freshmen — after the team’s first official practice last week.

Here’s what Staley had to say about USC’s new additions.

On Kierra Fletcher, No. 41


“She’s trying to get back to a place where she can practice every single day,” Staley said. “She hasn’t been out there a whole lot since she’s been here. The times that she’s been out there, you can tell that she’s a veteran.”

Fletcher (5-foot-9) transferred to USC from Georgia Tech, where she spent four seasons. She redshirted in what would have been her fifth year because of a November foot injury. At USC, she is a graduate student studying criminology.

Fletcher averaged 13 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in her last season with the Yellow Jackets. She should provide depth at guard with the departure of Destanni Henderson.

Raven Johnson (25) and Kierra Fletcher (41) shoot the ball as the Gamecocks hold their first team practice in the Carolina Coliseum on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.

On Ashlyn Watkins, No. 2

“She doesn’t walk around here like a freshman,” Staley said.


Watkins committed to South Carolina in November 2021. She was selected to the McDonald’s All-American game as a senior and was South Carolina’s 2021-22 Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

The 6-foot-3 forward gained notoriety for her ability to dunk, as she was the winner of the most recent McDonald’s All-American game dunk contest. Watkins was a five-star recruit from Columbia, attending Cardinal Newman School.

“Pleasant surprise. On both sides of the basketball, just competes,” Staley said. “Doesn’t always do all the right thing like a freshman, but it’s not from competing.”

Ashlyn Watkins (2) shoots the ball as the Gamecocks hold their first team practice in the Carolina Coliseum on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.

Cooper announced her intentions to sign with USC in October 2021. The 6-foot guard was ranked fourth at her position by ESPN and a five-star recruit.

She attended East Clarendon High School, where she scored more than 3,000 career points.

Talaysia Cooper (11) shoots the ball as the Gamecocks hold their first team practice in the Carolina Coliseum on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.





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