Gamecocks Land Dynamic Georgia Guard

In the past, when the South Carolina women's program battled North Carolina and Georgia in head-to-head recruiting battles for the nation's top prospects, the Gamecocks came up short. Dawn Staley has changed that in a hurry. Highly regarded 2009 guard Monique Willis from Savannah told GamecockAnthem that she picked South Carolina over Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, VA Tech, and Louisville.

Recruiters have been beating a path to Beach High School in Savannah, Georgia in pursuit of Monique Willis for some time now. They can move on, she's a Gamecock now.

When she gave South Carolina her verbal commitment, it was with high hopes and confidence in what she could bring to the program. "I can fill the guard position," Willis said. "And I can help them win more games."

According to the 5'9" guard, a big part of picking USC was Coach Dawn Staley's belief in freshmen starting if they show the ability and skill to start. "(Staley) said I'm going to come in as a two guard. There's a good chance that I'm going to start. If I play like I can, then I'll be starting at the two."

Willis also likes Staley's track record as a player and likes the thought of playing for an Olympian that has brought home gold medals as a player and a coach. "She has a great history," the guard said. "It's better than the other coaches."

So what is Willis going to bring to the Gamecock program? "She's a nightmare off the dribble because she's very explosive," Beach High coach Ronald Booker said. "She handles very well with both hands, and when she gets to the bucket she has an unbelievable vertical leap."

Booker has coached at Beach for 30 years, and says Willis is one of the top five athletes and players he's ever had. "She's one of the most athletic (players) we've ever had," he said. "She's so strong. It's almost impossible for players her size to guard her, and she's extremely quick, so she takes larger players outside and takes them off the dribble. I've seen her take some of our male varsity players off the dribble."

Willis knows her athleticism is one of her strengths as well. "My jumping ability is dominant for my size," she said.

According to Booker, her athletic ability also allows her to play the three, but that's not the only thing that makes her a good player. He says she's a complete player because she can "tear the 3-point line up" as well, and she has the mental capacity to compliment her athletic ability. She sees a lot of double teams in high school, and because of her understanding and control for the game, she led her team in assists last year. "She's very heady," the coach said. "She understands strategy, how to break teams down, and how to break individuals. Monique understands how to play out of double teams, she doesn't force it."

According to Willis, she also chose the Gamecocks because the school is close to home and offers her aspiring major of business management. Her self-confidence in her abilities is evident in her statement that she sees the guard position as being open for her. "Where I stand at now, I feel like I made the best choice that I could've made. I feel like with me being on the team, I'm going to help them be successful."

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories