July 6, 2004
Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina redshirt freshman forward and Columbia native Lakesha Tolliver suffered a torn ACL and lateral meniscus in practice after the Gamecocks’ 2003-04 season-opener at Clemson. The former Dreher HS star was forced to sit out the rest of her freshman year and was granted a redshirt year by the NCAA.
Tolliver, who was ranked as a top-100 player nationally coming out of high school and was viewed as a key part of USC’s recruiting class that ranked 10th in the country, found it difficult to watch her team from the sidelines and said she gained a new perspective on the game as a result.
“At first, I didn’t want to accept that I was injured,” Tolliver said. I had never been injured seriously and haven’t even really sprained an ankle bad or anything like that. It was difficult to be out with an injury last year, especially because this is my hometown school and I really want to be on the court. Coming in as a freshman, you always want to make an impact on the court, but I learned that you should never take playing basketball for granted.”
Tolliver now finds herself cleared to participate in all activities, including playing at full-speed.
“I have done a lot of rehabbing with our trainer and am working on my agility and movement,” Tolliver said. “I do a lot of running. On the court, I’m basically just working to get my feel back. I have been cleared to play and can do everything again, so getting my feel back is important.”
She also has spent a good deal of time getting stronger.
“During the off-season, I have been working hard in the weight room and with the trainer,” Tolliver said. “I am focusing in on getting the strength back in my knee, and am also working on my right quad and hamstring, along with strengthening my upper body.”
A member of the National Honor Society as a high school senior, Tolliver said she has learned a lot since coming to USC.
“The biggest difference I have seen in myself since coming to USC is work ethic,” Tolliver said. “If someone would tell me to do something, I used to always ask why I should do it. That has changed, and I now realize that people ask you to do things for a reason, and the reason is to make you better.”