Joyce Edwards committed to South Carolina over LSU and Clemson. A conversation with WNBA star A’ja Wilson helped cement the decision for one of the top prospects in the class of 2024.
While Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley did a lot to bring in Edwards, who is the second-ranked prospect in the class, so did Wilson. Edwards had planned to wait until April to make her decision, when the regular signing period opens, but a meeting with the two-time WNBA champion during the Gamecocks’ 114-76 win over Maryland on Sunday helped seal the deal.
“Me and A’ja had a good conversation at halftime,” Edwards told the Greenville News. “All of the returning players there were really cool, but I had a conversation with A’ja specifically, because we play the most similar. She gave me a lot of good advice.”
South Carolina sophomore Chloe Kitts also provided a nudge, as the two played together this summer for Team USA at the FIBA U-19 World Cup. Kitts was “in her ear” the “whole time during USA Basketball” urging her to choose the Gamecocks, she said.
“I’m just so happy for her either way, even if she didn’t choose here,” Kitts said. “I actually sent her a message when I saw her top three just saying, do what’s best for you and where makes you happy. If it’s not here, then that’s OK. Go where you feel like you’re going to succeed.”
A native of South Carolina, Edwards chose to stay home with the Gamecocks, despite a big push from defending champion LSU. Staley is someone that she knows she can “count on” for anything, Edwards said.
“My top three schools were all kind of the whole package for me, but I knew I wanted to win as many national championships as possible, and Dawn really convinced me she can get me to that level,” Edwards said.
There was also the matter of her education. South Carolina does not have the specific engineering major that Edwards wanted, which almost kept her from the Gamecocks. But Staley worked with the university’s honors college to ensure that she could get the right degree.
“She tried her hardest and found ways to do it so I can get both experiences for my academics and athletics. It was just how hard she worked to not give up (on me),” Edwards said.