After many months of speculation, South Carolina fans were able to breathe a breath of fresh air as the announcement was made that Alexis Jennings would indeed return in a Gamecocks jersey for her final year of eligibility.
South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley made the announcement on Tuesday, saying “Alexis is practicing, she’s doing well and she’s fully committed.”
This is huge news for Gamecock fans as the USC team is running low on post-presence after losing A’ja Wilson last season, who is now in the WNBA with the Las Vegas Aces. Jennings was South Carolina’s second-leading scorer and rebounder with 11.4 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game, so gaining that presence back will help space out the defense and release some pressure on the Gamecocks guards.
After the 2017-18 season ended last May, questions arose if Jennings would, in fact, follow Wilson to the WNBA draft and relinquish her remaining eligibility, or just in fact put up the basketball shoes for good. She never directly declared she would be coming back, and sources said she was taking her time to decide and putting her focus on graduating.
Looking at that fifth year of eligibility, the opportunities do arise after finishing that fourth year and finishing up your degree. The freedom to transfer with no penalty attached is appealing, especially for a player who did so well at a top-tier basketball team. Although, there is also the chance to continue your education and build up your stat line to increase your positioning in next year’s draft, which seems to be the best option for Jennings here.
With A’ja Wilson gone, the offense will flow more around Jennings and she will in fact lead the way for the Gamecocks’ 2018-19 season being the most seasoned player on the roster, which can’t hurt her stock or hurt her game.
“I don’t think we have anybody that really can defend her this summer,” Staley said. “Everyone’s on campus, everyone’s been in workouts for the past month. I’m encouraged by what we see every day. There’s improvement from everyone. We’re in a good place.”