LJCD grad Te-hina Paopao plays major role in women’s Final Four

CLEVELAND (KUSI) — There’s never been a better time to be a part of women’s college basketball. Iowa’s Elite Eight win against LSU was the highest rated game of hoops on ESPN since the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals – 16 million peak viewers.

Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese and many more have become household names.

And right in the thick of it, an All-American from our shores is third in scoring for the top ranked team in the tournament.

Alumni Report: LJCD graduate Te-Hina Paopao shines for top-ranked South  Carolina - The San Diego Union-Tribune

“The experience has been great,” guard Te-hina Paopao said. “We’ve had a long journey, and its finally here…it just feels unreal.

“Enjoy the moment, because not a lot of people get this opportunity. At the end of the day, I am just a kid who gets to experience this.”

Paopao has been a hoops savant since childhood, starring at La Jolla Country Day and earning California Player of the Year honors.

Her college career began at Oregon, but she transferred to South Carolina this season – a wise decision, as the Gamecocks remain undefeated headed into the Final Four this weekend.

“It’s amazing how far I’ve come,” guard Te-hina Paopao said. “I’ve had a bumpy road, a bumpy journey, and God and family have kept me still…God has got me through everything.”

South Carolina will need a strong performance from Paopao as they play N.C. State on Friday. She averages 11 points per game in her 35 appearances this season. And plenty of folks will be watching – a moment she embraces.

“I’m really happy about the coverage we’re getting,” Paopao said. “It’s a joy to watch other women compete and get the coverage we need. Obviously there’s still more work to do, but we’re headed in the right direction.

“What they say is ‘everybody watches women’s sports,’ and its true because it’s such a joy to watch women compete.”

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