Freshman forward Chloe Kitts could see action for No. 1 South Carolina sooner than expected. Much, much sooner.
Dawn Staley told reporters on Wednesday that Kitts is “eligible right now” to play for the Gamecocks and will travel with the team for Thursday’s game against South Dakota State.
“If there’s an opportunity to put her in the game, we’re gonna put her in the game, Staley said. “We want her to be in a position to have a positive experience.”
USC’s original announcement of her signing stated that her eligibility would begin in the spring semester. South Carolina students completed exams Monday.
Thursday’s game is one of seven that USC will play before the spring semester starts.
Kitts is the only player in the Staley era who’s joined the active roster midseason.
Some questions arose on social media regarding how Kitts would be able to play so soon, with the Gamecocks already nine games into the season and its newest freshman signing just a month ago and arriving on campus Tuesday.
To put it simply, Kitts met the NCAA’s guidelines for graduating early and being eligible to play. Kitts took online classes throughout high school through a program called Florida Virtual School, which allowed her to take courses at her own pace and graduate early.
More in-depth answers about that process can be found in the NCAA’s “Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete” handbook made for the 2022-23 season.
Page 20 of the handbook states that incoming college players at Division I schools seeking their first full-time year of eligibility need to earn 16 NCAA-approved “core-course credits.”
Students need to take English (four years), algebra I or higher (three years), science (two years), social science (two years) and five total years of additional courses while in high school.
Ten of those 16 credits must be completed prior to their seventh semester, including seven in English, math or science. Early graduates are still responsible for fulfilling those requirements.
MIDSEASON ROSTER ADDS
While it’s an uncommon move, Kitts is the most recent player to make this leap.
Former Kansas men’s basketball player Silvio De Sousa graduated from high school early in 2017 and became eligible after the holiday break. He played in the Chick-Fil-A Classic for IMG Academy that December and played his first game with the Jayhawks in January 2018.
In 2020, UCLA women’s basketball player Dominique Darius joined the Bruins that December after signing a letter of intent in November. Like Kitts, Darius also traveled with the team for early season games. Darius was considered a true freshman for UCLA in the 2020-21 season and played 16 games.
At South Carolina, the men’s basketball roster added Tre-Vaughn Minott in January of the 2020-21 season.
Kitts moved in on Tuesday and also practiced with the squad Tuesday and Wednesday.
“She fits in quite well,” Staley said. “All of her teammates are really supportive and helping her along the way.”