Top recruit A’ja Wilson ready to examine hometown Gamecocks

dcloninger@thestate.comJanuary 31, 2014 

A'ja Wilson of Heathwood Hall

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

South Carolina is preparing for a big weekend. The No. 7 Gamecocks, tied for first place in the SEC, are hoping for a large crowd as they take on Missouri on Sunday.

They’re also hoping to impress one attendee.

Top-ranked national recruit and Columbia native A’ja Wilson will take her fourth and final official visit this weekend as she heads to USC. Wilson, a senior at Heathwood Hall and recent McDonald’s All-America honoree, will arrive at USC on Saturday evening and stay through Monday.

“I’m very excited,” Wilson said Friday, as she prepared for Heathwood’s home game against Ben Lippen that evening. “I’m just looking forward to having a great visit.”

Wilson has made official visits to Connecticut, North Carolina and Tennessee, the other three finalists on her list. Her decision likely won’t be until the end of her senior season (first week of March) and may stretch until the first day of the spring signing period (April 16).

“I think she’s going to approach it like all the other visits,” said her father, Roscoe Wilson. “It’s going to be part of the whole journey. She’ll put some thought into it and come up with a decision. I can only speculate that it won’t be until after the season is over. She’s still got her final paper to do, and to make sure her grades are up, and she wants to win a state championship.”

Wilson has been to USC several times before in unofficial capacities, but she hasn’t taken in the full tour.

“I’ve been to a basketball game or a football game,” she said. “I’ve never seen the dorms, and I’ve only been to the practice facility, the gyms. I haven’t seen the real actual campus, the student life.”

A potentially large crowd at Colonial Life Arena coincides with Wilson’s visit. USC announced on Friday that it is handing out free neon yellow T-shirts to attendees, reading “There’s no place like home” on the front. USC students will receive slightly different T-shirts with the moniker “2.2K.” The Gamecocks are hoping to draw 2,200 students to the game.

Wilson was surprised to be named to the McDonald’s All-America team earlier this week. Her father laughed as he recalled his daughter curled up in the family recliner, nervous about the announcement.

“She likes the Golden Globes, the Oscars, and she knows that some people get snubbed sometimes,” Roscoe Wilson said. “When her named flashed up and they showed her making layups, she sort of grinned and curled up there and enjoyed it for herself.”

“It was a surprise,” A’ja Wilson said. “Everyone was cheering me on, but I really, I can’t take things for granted. I was balled up and silenced my phone and stopped texting people. Seeing my name up on the screen on ESPN was just amazing.”

Wilson is the lone uncommitted member of the McDonald’s girls team. She will play on the East squad at the game with two other USC commitments. Jatarie White, the No. 7 overall recruit in the country, and Bianca Cuevas (No. 44), each signed with the Gamecocks during the fall.

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