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Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Updated: September 17, 10:06 AM ET
Walker Dials Staley

By Glenn Nelson
ESPN HoopGurlz

Ieasia Walker
Ieasia Walker sets her sights on the SEC.

Dawn Staley, who turned around Temple as quickly as she used to find open teammates at the Olympics, WNBA and NCAA Final Fours, already is showing signs of igniting a similar turnaround before she even officially places a whistle around her neck at South Carolina.

After gaining a commitment from Monique Willis, an ultra-athletic, 5-foot-9 guard from Savannah, Ga., the first-year Gamecocks coach has received a verbal from Long Island's Ieasia Walker, a 5-7 point guard very much in the mold of Staley herself.

Ieasia Walker
Ieasia Walker is headed down to South Carolina next year.

In what could be the start of an even more dramatic development for South Carolina, Staley just last weekend had Cokie Reed of Waco, Texas, the No. 5 prospect in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred, on campus for an official visit. She also was to have Kelsey Bone, the No. 2 prospect, out of Houston, but Hurricane Ike forced a re-scheduling.

Both elite-level posts are scheduled for home visits from Staley this week.

The No. 70 prospect in the ESPN HoopGurlz Hundred for 2009, Walker is one of the top pass-first lead guards in the class. Quick-footed, she operates a team with high efficiency and little flash, is strong off the dribble, attacks the rim well and gets to the foul line, and is a top-notch defender on the ball.

Walker also considered Florida, Penn State, Louisville and Seton Hall, according to one of her club coaches, Marc Riley.

In Willis, Walker could have a running mate almost as adept at attacking the basket and who is extremely explosive off the floor.

Ieasia Walker
Ieasia Walker is one of the best at attacking the cup.

Temple did not have a winning season during the decade that preceded Staley's tenure as head women's basketball coach. She left the Owls as the program's all-time winningest coach, with a career 172-80 record. A three-time Olympian, Staley was an Olympic assistant in Beijing and considered one of the top candidates for the head post in 2012.

Susan Walvius, Staley's predecessor at South Carolina, failed to take the Gamecocks to the postseason the previous five seasons. If Staley even comes close to hitting her recruiting targets this fall, the end of that streak will not be far into the future.

Mindi Rice contributed to this report.

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Glenn Nelson is a senior writer at ESPN.com and the founder of HoopGurlz.com. A member of the McDonald's All-American and Parade All-American Selection Committees, he formerly coached girls club basketball, was the editor-in-chief of an online sports network, and was a longtime, national-award-winning newspaper columnist and writer. He can be reached at glenn@hoopgurlz.com.