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May 3, 2007

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina’s incoming class of freshmen was ranked as the No. 18 class in the nation by The Collegiate Girls Basketball Report, the publication announced this week. The ranking marks the third time in the last five years that head coach Susan Walvius has attracted a top-20 class to Columbia, as the 2003 class was ranked 10th nationally by All-Star Girls Report and the 2005 class was ranked 13th nationally by Blue Star Index.

This year’s class, which was originally ranked as the No. 21 incoming class in the nation, was moved up to the No. 18 spot with the recent addition of 5-foot-9 shooting guard Jordan Jones from Suwanee, Ga./Collins Hill HS. With Jones draining three-pointers from deep all year long, Collins Hill finished the 2006-07 season undefeated and ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation by USA Today.

“Jones, the nation’s premier long distance shooter, will enable the Gamecocks to stretch the defense,” wrote Dan Olson, owner and director of the Tampa-based Collegiate Girls Basketball Report. “Jones has unlimited range and consistency and was recruited heavily nationally. South Carolina signed six players altogether in 2007, addressing the backcourt with speed and the frontcourt with quickness. The signees have also continued to develop, thus elevating their class ranking.”

Jones is one of three first-team all-state selections set to enroll at Carolina this fall, joining Ashlie Billingslea (5-foot-6 point guard from Stephenson HS in Stone Mountain, Ga.) and Jasmine Payne (6-foot-1 forward from Stringer HS in Bay Springs, Miss.) She was an AAU teammate of Billingslea and fellow Gamecock signee Courtney Newton, who averaged 24 points per game en route to earning a spot on the Georgia All-Star Team as a senior at Flowery Branch HS in Flowery Branch, Ga.

Jewel May, a 6-foot-1 forward from Conyers, Ga. (Heritage HS) who also earned a spot on the Georgia All-Star Team and Samone Kennedy, a 5-foot-4 point guard from Ramsay HS in Birmingham, Ala., who helped lead her high school team to four consecutive Alabama Class 5A state championships, round out this year’s class. Kennedy earned a spot on the Birmingham News Super All-Metro Team this year in addition to representing her state in the Alabama vs. Mississippi All-Star Game.

South Carolina has made back-to-back trips to the postseason in the last two years, advancing to the round of 16 in the Women’s NIT in 2007. In addition to their success on the court, the Gamecocks led all Southeastern Conference schools with 10 representatives on the SEC Winter Sports Academic Honor Roll.