South Carolina is an SEC women's basketball program on the rise which is graduating its top three-point shooter.
Gamecocks, meet your latest recruit, Jordan Jones, one of the premier long-distance shooters in the 2007 class.
Jones, a 5-foot-9 guard with Collins Hill High School, the consensus national No. 1 this season, committed to the Gamecocks on Saturday night and informed her other finalists, Virginia and Wake Forest, on Sunday. Jones will be the third player from Collins Hill to play for South Carolina. Stacey Booker, the program's No. 10 all-time three-point shooter, and Shannel Black both played out their eligibility this past season.
"I made a decision that seemed the best fit for me," Jones said. "It has been a very long couple weeks and alot of talks between family, friends and coaches."
The No. 50 overall prospect in the country, according to HoopGurlz.com, Jone signed with Texas Tech during the early period, but asked for and was granted a release after she decided to attend a school closer to home. The death of an uncle and the serious illness of an aunt prompted Jones' decision to re-open her recruitment. South Carolina is a 2 1/2-hour drive from Suwanee, Ga.
"Being close to home was an important issue for me," Jones said.
Jones' commitment was a boost to coach Susan Walvius, who lost leading three-point shooter Stacy Booker and guard Lauren Simms, the team's leading scorer in 2006-07, to graduation. The Gamecocks have had two straight winning seasons under Walvius and this season played in the WNIT. Jones also said she was eager to work with position coach Michelle Marciniak, a former National Champion and national player of the year from Tennessee.
"I am looking forward to learning from a coach who knows what it takes to be successful in the SEC like coach Marciniak," Jones said. "We already have a friendly challenge of one-on-one as well as a ping pong matchup."
Ashley Billingslea, a guard from rival Stephenson who signed with the Gamecocks during the early period, has played summer ball with Jones. South Carolina also has Connecticut on its schedule, which will allow Jones to reconnect with friend and Collins Hill teammate Maya Moore. She also has numerous club teammates who have committed to other SEC schools, including Mississippi (Shantell Black), Florida (Antionette Howard) and Tennessee (Kelley Cain).
Jones said she began a strict conditioning regimen this past week to prepare for her new challenge. "I have been told by some former teammates in the SEC to get ready," she explained.
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Glenn Nelson is the publisher of HoopGurlz.com and the editor-in-chief of Scout Media (www.Scout.com), an online sports network and magazine-publishing company and subsidiary of Fox Interactive Media. Glenn also founded and coached
the Dragons and Northwest HoopGurlz select girl's basketball teams. He previously was a longtime, national-award-winning basketball columnist and writer for The Seattle
Times. His work also has appeared in several national magazines and books. He is co-author of "Rising Stars: The Ten Best Players in the NBA" (Rosen Publishing, 2002). He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.