Gamecocks women’s basketball hosts Coker in exhibition match Friday


COLUMBIA, S.C. — Reigning National Champion South Carolina hosts its lone exhibition of the 2017-18 season Friday night, welcoming Coker to Colonial Life Arena for a 7 p.m. tipoff. Admission is free.

The Cobras are led by Gamecock great Shannon Johnson, who is one of four South Carolina players to have her jersey retired and was a 2004 Olympic teammate of Gamecock head coach Dawn Staley.

The Gamecocks return six letterwinners from last season, including two regular starters and a third who started half of last season’s games.

Senior forward A’ja Wilson has been a fixture in the starting lineup for the last two seasons, while sophomore guard Tyasha Harris worked her way into the Gamecocks’ starting rotation at the start of SEC play last season and kept her spot throughout the national championship run. Senior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore opened and closed the 2016-17 season in the starting lineup. The trio combined to average 30.9 points last season, while the three other returning letterwinners added 8.6 points per game.

Sophomore forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan led the group with 4.9 points per game, including 6.2 points per postseason game as her minutes expanded due to injury-induced lineup changes.

For the second-straight season, South Carolina welcomes a transfer into the mix for this season as Alexis Jennings will take the court for the first time in a Gamecock uniform. The junior forward sat out last season after transferring from SEC rival Kentucky, where she contributed 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game over her two seasons in Lexington. Jennings will look to return to the form that earned her SEC All-Freshman Team honors in 2015 after capturing WBCA High School All-America recognition the year before.

Five new Gamecocks join the fold this season with three freshmen and a graduate transfer ready to take the court right away.

Redshirt-sophomore guard Te’a Cooper will sit out the 2017-18 season after transferring from Tennessee in the offseason. All three freshmen were ranked in the top 55 of the 2017 recruiting class, including a pair of top-50 entries. Guard/forward Lele Grissett earned the top spot among the group, ranked No. 23 in the class and the fourth-best wing player. Bianca Jackson and LaDazhia Williams both earned state player of the year honors in their final high school campaigns.

Penn State transfer Lindsey Spann chose to spend her final season of eligibility with at South Carolina and brings a wealth of outside shooting to the Gamecocks’ lineup. Averaging 12.3 points over her three years as a Lady Lion, she ranks eighth in Penn State history in career made 3s (143) and was an honorable mention Big Ten selection as a sophomore.