Dawn Staley’s belief in Laeticia Amihere runs deep

Laeticia Amihere of the South Carolina Gamecocks women's basketball team
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South Carolina’s Laeticia Amihere‘s best quality is both a gift and a curse, according to Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley.

“She’s super stubborn,” Staley said of the 6-4 junior ahead of South Carolina’s Final Four semifinal against Louisville on Friday night. “Stubborn has got her through two ACLs.”

Amihere, who hails from Mississauga, Ontario, tore her left ACL as a junior in high school at King’s Christian Collegiate. Then, just one month after she committed to South Carolina, she tore her right ACL during a training session with the Canadian national team in December 2018.

“I believed in her after her first ACL. I believed in her after her second ACL,” Staley explained.

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In fact, Staley believed in Amihere so much that, after her second ACL tear, Staley suggested she graduate from high school and enroll at South Carolina a semester early in order to undergo her rehab on-campus.

“How does football do it? They graduate early,” Staley told Greenville News. “It was all her. If she wasn’t a great student, it wouldn’t be possible. She set the stage prior to even being in the situation.”

Amihere has been a reliable presence for the Gamecocks since. Known for her versatility, she’s able to come off the bench and fill in wherever needed.

“I love playing with her. Just knowing she can handle the ball outside the paint or inside the paint, it’s exciting,” said South Carolina senior Victaria Saxton.

Amihere, who made her Olympic debut for Canada at last summer’s Tokyo Games, recorded 16 minutes in South Carolina’s 80-50 win over Creighton in the Elite Eight.

And Staley believes her best basketball is still to come.

“I really don’t think she’s actually scratched the surface as to the player that she’s going to become. I think probably the college game — the court is probably a little bit too small for her,” Staley said. “There’s a lot of zone being played, a lot of sagging, so you don’t really get the feel for what she can really do. There are spurts where she just looks incredible. Like I truly believe in her.”

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