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Dawn Staley, USC women’s basketball battling Iowa for nation’s No. 9 recruit

With the South Carolina women’s basketball regular season winding down, coach Dawn Staley made a quick trip from Columbia to Des Moines, Iowa this week.

The end result?

A new recruiting target and scholarship offer for the Gamecocks.

Staley, according to multiple reports, traveled north on Monday to watch five-star Class of 2025 guard Divine Bourrage compete in the Iowa high school girls basketball state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Staley, whose No. 1 Gamecocks are the only remaining undefeated team in Division I men’s or women’s basketball, sat courtside to watch Bourrage, the No. 9 overall recruit in the espnW rankings for next year’s class, play in a state quarterfinal game that afternoon.

USC assistant coach Jolette Law was also in attendance for the game, according to a video from sportscaster Jake Brend of Local 5 News.

A little over 24 hours later, Bourrage’s AAU program, Example Sports, announced Tuesday that the junior point guard had received a scholarship offer from South Carolina.

Bourrage, a 6-foot guard, has double-digit offers from Power Five schools, according to the website WBB Blog, and is being heavily pursued by in-state program Iowa.

USC and Iowa — led by star guard Caitlin Clark, the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball — matched up in last year’s Final Four in Dallas, with Clark scoring 41 points as the Hawkeyes upset the previously undefeated Gamecocks in the national semifinals.

South Carolina has now thrown its hat in the ring in an attempt to lure Bourrage — who plays roughly an hour from Iowa’s campus — out of state and into the SEC for college.

Bourrage was named her conference’s player of the year as a junior after averaging 18.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game for Davenport North, according to the Quad City Times. Her team finished 22-4 in the 5A classification and ended the season with a loss in its Monday state quarterfinal against Cedar Falls (the game Staley and Law attended).

Outside of USC and Iowa, Bourrage has scholarship offers from Power Five schools including Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, N.C. State, Indiana, Penn State, Maryland and Kansas, according to her social media accounts.

At Davenport North, Bourrage already has one teammate committed to Iowa: fellow 2025 guard Journey Houston, who ranks as a four-star recruit and the No. 36 player in espnW’s rankings. Houston verbally committed to the Hawkeyes and coach Lisa Bluder last summer.

University of South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley watches team introductions before the Gamecocks play Alabama in the Colonial Life Arena on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
University of South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley watches team introductions before the Gamecocks play Alabama in the Colonial Life Arena on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024

South Carolina WBB recruiting update

In terms of Class of 2025 recruiting, the South Carolina women’s basketball team doesn’t have a verbal commitment yet but has been involved with a number of top recruits.

USC remains in the running for four of the top five prospects in espnW’s rankings, as five-star guard Aaliyah Chavez, five-star forward Jasmine Davidson, five-star guard Darianna Alexander and five-star guard ZaKiyah Johnson all included the Gamecocks on their initial cut-down of potential schools (those lists generally have five to eight finalists listed).

Bourrage, at No. 9, isn’t far behind as USC shoots for another highly ranked recruiting class for 2025 and national signing this November. South Carolina has the No. 2 class nationally for 2024, according to espnW, headlined by five-star forward and local standout Joyce Edwards.

USC would likely jump to the No. 1 spot for the 2024 rankings if Staley and the Gamecocks can land the commitment of five-star forward and No. 1 recruit Sarah Strong from North Carolina.

Strong — who’s also being prominently pursued by UConn — has kept her recruitment quiet but is expected to commit to a school before or during the regular signing period (April 17 to May 15) for 2024 basketball recruits.

Next up for South Carolina women’s basketball

  • Feb. 29: at Arkansas, 9 p.m. (SEC Network)

  • March 3: vs. Tennessee, noon (ESPN)

  • March 6-10: SEC Tournament in Greenville