College Sports

‘Building chemistry,’ trio of future Gamecocks star in McDonald’s All-American game

‘We got better,’ Staley says about new recruits

Laeticia Amihere, Brea Beal, and Olivia Thompson signed to play basketball for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.
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Laeticia Amihere, Brea Beal, and Olivia Thompson signed to play basketball for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.

South Carolina women’s basketball was well-represented in the 2019 edition of the McDonald’s All-American Game.

Three future Gamecocks — guard Zia Cooke, wing Brea Beal and forward Aliyah Boston — competed in the contest, considered the most prestigious high school showcase in the country. Only Stanford had as many recruits featured in the game.

Cooke, Beal and Boston all started for the East squad, which won 83-68. Cooke specifically was cited by broadcast analyst Brooke Weisbrod as one of three players that most impressed her in the game — she finished with nine points, seven rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Beal added six points, eight rebounds, three blocks, a steal and an assist, including a highlight in which she blocked a shot and went coast-to-coast to finish the layup through contact, while Boston just missed out on the double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.

Back in Columbia, the players’ future coach, Dawn Staley, led a watch party of the game with fans at a local restaurant. Before that, she said she had been in contact with the trio and was pleased with the experience they were getting.

“They’re enjoying themselves, they’re having a great time. I got video of them, we got pictures of them and their families,” Staley said. “We’re going to do a watch party at (Wild Wing Cafe) tonight just to introduce them to our fans, and hopefully they’ll put on a good show. They are certainly happy that they get a chance to play with each other, so they’re building some chemistry as we speak.”

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.

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