Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Mike Siroky's SEC Report: Staley Addition Keeps South Carolina Loaded and in Pace With Tennessee

By Mike Siroky

It is hard to keep pace with the top teams in  the Southeastern Conference off women’s basketball.

Just as Tennessee immediately improves its roster with two players who have practiced with the team all season – one of them future All-American point guard Diamond DeShields from North Carolina -- so too does league co-champion South Carolina add an immediate impact player in Sarah Imovbioh, the ACC's leading rebounder (10.8 per game – or a 334 total -- with more than 12 points per game) last season with Virginia. With 207 rebounds at SC, she will have a 1,000 rebound career.

The native of Nigeria has graduated with a year of eligibility left, so she’s immediately eligible. 

This is an NCAA loophole that harkens back to the AIAW and the start of the women’s game when all transfers were immediately eligible.

 By completing her degree, she earned a fifth year of eligibility, having already redshirted her first year on the Virginia campus. The NCAA rule that allows the fifth year based on completing 85 percent of her degree by the coming season and she obviously met that standard by earning the degree which she will receive next month.

Ironically, it was at Virginia where SC coach Dawn Staley rose to prominence as a Hall of Fame player. 

Now she’s reaped a fruit out of her lower-considered alma mater.

It was Staley who announced the arrival to her Twitter followers, messaging this is a "true gift to our program." 

While Staley busies herself this summer as the top assistant with UConn’s Geno Auriemma for USA Basketball, she is through recruiting with the other newcomer being another international player, 5-8 guard Shay Colley from Brampton, Ontario, Canada

The Gamecocks and the Lady Vols will be the favorites to repeat again the coming seasons. Yes seasons. More than the next one.

Imovbioh can help replace graduating players Aleighsa Welch and Elem Ibiam.

 There is plenty of other depth. 

Two-time conference player of the year Tiffany Mitchell is likely to pair at guard with rookie of the year A’ja Wilson. 

Alaina Coates would be the center. Jatarie White is the most gifted of the others. All the starters would be better than 6-0. 

Maryland and Ohio State also pursued Imovbioh. 

Imovbioh was in high school at St. Anne’s-Belfield, Va. She earned Parade All-American status there. 

She sat out what would have been her freshman season at Virginia due to NCAA restrictions around her original high-school enrollment while in her native country. She did not meet core curriculum standards while attending school there.

Staley has assigned 13 scholarships, her usual limit with a team of all-stars. She has 15 available.

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