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Aug. 25, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. – University of South Carolina head women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley announced today the addition of three players to her 2008-09 roster. Junior Valerie Naimina (Suva, Fiji/St. Joseph’s Secondary) joins the Gamecocks after playing her first two seasons at Long Island University and will sit out the 2008-09 season due to transfer rules. Freshmen Lakeisha Sutton (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) and Miranda Tate (Chicago, Ill./Bolingbrook) are eligible immediately after being release from National Letters of Intent signed at Long Island and Temple, respectively.

“All three of these players are great additions to our core players who understand just what it will take to be successful on and off the court,” Staley said. “We all are very happy they have chosen the University of South Carolina.”

Naimina, a 5-foot-5 guard, was an All-Northeast Conference First-Team selection last season after leading the Blackbirds to a program-best record of 24-8 and a spot in the NEC championship game. Averaging 20.4 points per game on 35.7 percent 3-point shooting, she became the fastest player in LIU history to reach 1,000 career points, hitting the milestone on Feb. 9, 2008, in just her 53rd career game. As a freshman, Naimina became the first player to earn both NEC Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season. She was fifth in the NEC in scoring that season with 17.8 ppg and a .440 3-point shooting percentage, the sixth-best in the nation.

Sutton is a 5-foot-9 guard who helped Trenton Catholic to three straight South Jersey Championships and back-to-back New Jersey State Non-Public B State Championships. As a senior in 2007-08, she scored 19.3 ppg and earned Associated Press New Jersey All-State honors for the second-straight year as the Lady Mikes posted a 27-2 record. Sutton was the Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year and was a McDonald’s All-America nominee. Locally, she earned spots on the Trenton Times All-Area First Team and the Burlington County All-Star team.

A six-foot guard, Tate played two seasons at Bolingbrook, helping the team to an Illinois state championship in 2006. She led the team with 14.4 ppg that season and hit 37 3-pointers, stats that were both team highs. In 2006-07, Tate was an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Third-Team and Champaign News-Gazette Honorable Mention All-State selection after hitting 62.7 percent from the field and taking her team back to the AA title game. She helped Bolingbrook to a 63-4 record in her career before leaving the team in December 2007 for personal reasons.