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Jan. 30, 2003

University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball Head Coach Susan Walvius announced Wednesday that her fall recruiting class has been ranked as the seventh-best in the country by Adidas All-Star Girls Report.

This is Walvius’ fourth Top 25 recruiting class since taking over at South Carolina in 1997 and is the highest ranked group that she’s brought to campus. The 1998-99 class (Shaunzinksi Gortman, Jocelyn Penn, Shannon Segres and Crishna Hill) was ranked as the 10th best in the country.

Earlier in November, the Gamecocks signed six prep standouts to national letters of intent to play for the Gamecocks in 2003-2004. The list includes three South Carolina natives, two teammates from Georgia and a member of the Romanian National Team.

Stacey Booker    G     5-8    Suwanee, GA     Collins Hill High SchoolShanell Harris   G/F   6-0    Suwanee, GA     Collins Hill High SchoolMelanie Johnson  G/F   6-2    Barnwell, SC    Barnwell High SchoolLarissa Kulscar  F     6-3    Cluj, RomaniaLauren Simms     G     5-8    Columbia, SC    Spring Valley High SchoolLakesha Tolliver F/C   6-3    Columbia, SC    Dreher High School

Stacey Booker was rated as the 73rd best player in the country by Blue Star and at #106 by the All-Star Girls Report. She was named to the First-Team All Georgia squad and helped lead her Collins High School basketball team to two consecutive state titles. As a junior, Booker averaged 17 points, 5.7 rebounds and over three steals per contest. She currently holds the school record with eight steals in one contest.

Shanell Harris was named the MVP of the Georgia State Tournament and First Team All-State in Georgia. Along with teammate and new USC signee Stacey Booker, Harris was one of the leaders on Collins High School’s back-to-back 5A state championship squads and averaged 13 points, nine rebounds and 2.7 blocks during her junior season. Harris was ranked #82 overall in the country by the All- Star Girls Report and an Honorable Mention All American by Street & Smith.

Melanie Johnson comes to South Carolina from Barnwell, SC, where she earned First-Team All State honors last season at Barnwell High School. Averaging 24 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks last season, Johnson was ranked #95 overall by ASGR (All-Star Girls Report) and an Honorable Mention All American by Street & Smith.

Larissa Kulscar is a member of the Romanian National Team and hails from Cluj, Romania. An exceptional athlete, Kulscar averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds last year.

Columbia-native Lauren Simms will play the point for South Carolina and is currently a senior at Spring Valley High School. She was named to the All-State First Team last year after averaging 23 points, six rebounds and three steals per contest. Simms was rated #133 by ASGR and an Honorable Mention All American by Street & Smith.

Another Columbia product, Lakesha Tolliver, attends Dreher High School and led her Blue Devil team to the SC State Championship as a sophomore and was named to the First Team All-State squad last year. She was rated #94 by ASGR.

“We signed a strong freshman class for next fall,” said South Carolina Head Coach Susan Walvius. “All six players are extremely athletic and competitive. The five American players all come from high school teams that have won championships and Larissa Kulscar is a key member of her Romanian National Team. Shanell Harris is a great defensive player and reminds us of Shaunzinski Gortman (on defense). She was more of a scorer during her junior season and we expect that she’ll continue to improve during her senior year at Collins High School. Stacey Booker is a great three-point shooter who plays the two guard position. She also attends Collins High School and is a competitor. Lauren Simms will play the point for us and is a strong, physical athlete who can penetrate. She’s a member of the Spring Valley National Honor Society and has a great head for the game of basketball. She played extremely over the summer at the Adidas and Nike basketball camps. In my opinion, Lakesha Tolliver hasn’t even scratched the surface in her game. She’s an exceptional athlete and really played well at the Nike camp. Melanie Johnson will be a big-time SEC player for us. She is a great athlete who had a superb summer playing at the End-of-the-Trail Tournament, in addition to the Adidas and Nike camps. We’re very excited about Larissa Kulscar joining our program. She is an exceptional athlete who does everything well. When we were scouting her at the European Championships, she finished in the top 10 in every category; scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks, steals and fouls drawn.”