One of the top players in the announced recruiting class of the South Carolina women’s basketball team in 2021 is leaving the program.
Guard Saniya Rivers announced via social media on Thursday that she will enter the transfer portal after just one season playing for Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks. She was the 2021 Gatorade National Player of the Year and McDonald’s All-American.
“Thank you to Coach Staley and the rest of the coaching staff and program for giving me the opportunity to win a national championship in my first year with this team. life,” Rivers said on Twitter. “I also want to thank everyone who has supported me this year on and off the pitch and made my first year memorable. Last but not least, Gamecock Nation Thanks.
Rivers was the No. 3 ranked player by ESPN HoopGurlz for the Class of 2021. South Carolina had the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation last season.
“A note on Saniya Rivers’ transfer from South Carolina: She’s marked on the portal as ‘do not contact,’ meaning she knows where she’s going,” said Chantel Jennings, reporter for The Athletic, on Twitter.
Rivers appeared in 27 games and averaged 2.3 points per game, but went nearly three weeks into part of the season without playing in a game.
Rivers did not play in USC’s first three NCAA Tournament games because of what coach Dawn Staley said was a “coach’s decision.” His fourth quarter entry in the Elite Eight game against Creighton in the Greensboro Regional Final drew a standing ovation from the crowd.
Rivers was instrumental in the Gamecocks’ Final Four win over Louisville. She spoke at Target Center to start the second quarter against Louisville, alongside teammates Victaria Saxton, Destanni Henderson, Zia Cooke and Kamilla Cardoso. In the first minute, she handed out an assist to Saxton, who hit a reverse layup to put the Gamecocks up 19-10.
Rivers finished the night with three points, four assists, two steals and a block in 20 minutes played. It was only the sixth time this season the Wilmington, North Carolina native had logged 20 or more minutes in a game and the first time since a Feb. 20 game against Tennessee.
Rivers’ Final Four performance drew praise from Staley.
“She’s got a really good knack for her court vision,” Staley said of Rivers. “She’s elite. I was just thinking of getting her to where we would put her in a position where she could play, give the ball to our post players or make good decisions – she’s been doing that all season. It’s just that certain situations require you to really focus on that, and I think she did a great job with that.
Rivers is the third Gamecock player to leave the program since the Gamecocks won the national championship. Senior Elysa Wesolek and second Eniya Russell revealed their plans to leave the Gamecocks program in social media posts last week.
Rivers, Wesolek and Russell were all present and recognized at Wednesday’s national championship parade at Columbia.
Rivers is averaging the most minutes (12.9) of any USC freshman while appearing in 27 games. Bree Hall (9.2 mpg) played 36 games, while Sania Feagin (4.3) played 21 times. First-year guard Raven Johnson lost a season-ending injury in the second game of the year.
South Carolina has signed two rookies for the Class of 2022 in Cardinal Newman’s Ashlyn Watkins and East Clarendon’s Talaysia Cooper, both McDonald’s All-Americans. Georgia Tech’s Kierra Fletcher signed with the Gamecocks on a transfer.
Top 5 WBB Class Rookies 2021
According to ESPN HoopGurlz
1. Azzi Fudd (UConn)
2. Raven Johnson (South Carolina)
3. Saniya Rivers (South Carolina)
4. Sania Feagin (South Carolina)
5. Caroline Ducharme (UConn)
This story was originally published April 14, 2022 4:52 p.m.