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WNBA Draft Watch 2020: Mikiah Herbert Harrigan is leading the Gamecocks to success

Mikiah Herbert Harrigan had quite the challenge ahead of her when A’ja Wilson graduated from South Carolina. Now, with an infusion of freshman talent helping the shot-blocking senior, the Gamecocks are flourishing again.

South Carolina v Maryland
Mikiah Herbert Harrigan’s shot blocking puts her on the map as a prospect, but it’s her developing offense that could seal the deal for her in the 2020 WNBA Draft.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The South Carolina Gamecocks have been one of the best teams in the nation so far this 2019-20 season, with much of the credit going to head coach Dawn Staley’s top-ranked recruiting class.

But the work of the upperclassmen on the team shouldn’t be diminished — especially that of senior forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan who, as the program’s heir to Gamecock legend A’ja Wilson, has had some pretty big shoes to fill.

In a conversation with The Athletic’s Tamryn Spruill (who also is Swish Appeal’s Editor-in-Chief), Herbert Harrigan mentioned that making a WNBA roster is a goal of hers, and that reuniting with Wilson would be a dream. The duo last played together in 2017-18.

The Las Vegas Aces have just one pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft (No. 33), so chances of that particular scenario coming to fruition are slim. But Herbert Harrigan’s play as a senior has increased her draft stock nonetheless. Let’s take a look at what she has to offer WNBA GMs.

Honors and statistics

As a junior, Herbert Harrigan averaged 10.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game to go along with 2.2 blocks per contest. She’s improved upon the prior two figures thus far as a senior — 13.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game — and continues to block over 2.0 shots per game as well.

As a sophomore, Herbert Harrigan was named to the SEC All-Tournament Team. She entered the 2019-20 season 5th in South Carolina history in blocked shots (152) and is now up to 172.

How she helps the Gamecocks

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 08 SEC Conference Women’s Tournament - Arkansas vs South Carolina
Mikiah Herbert Harrigan
Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The area in which Herbert Harrigan excels most is obvious: defense. Per Her Hoop Stats, she ranked in the 94th percentile in block rate as a freshman, a number which only has risen during her time at South Carolina. Herbert Harrigan’s ability to emphatically erase mistakes on the defensive end embodies Staley’s vision of a physically overwhelming Gamecock team, especially in the post-Wilson era.

That role has called for Herbert Harrigan to shoulder more of the burden on offense. She may fly a bit under the radar here, but the strides she’s made have been significant. Herbert Harrigan has increased her effective field goal percentage from 48.2 percent as a junior (not particularly impressive for a 6-foot-2 forward) to 53.7 percent as a senior. She credits the presence of freshman Aaliyah Boston for opening the floor for her, stating:

(Having Aliyah) has freed my game up a lot because she attracts a lot of defense in the post. So it leaves me open for that short, corner jumper.

But the progress Herbert Harrigan has made in the skilled areas of her game is still noticeable, and all her own. Her bread and butter is still defense, though, and thinking ahead to the 2020 draft, it will likely be the main reason a team picks her. She’s not one of the bigger names in this draft class, and the second and third rounds of the draft are typically volatile. Herbert Harrigan could very well carve out a name for herself in that range if she and South Carolina continue playing well.

Watch her play

As one of the bigger names in college basketball, the Gamecocks have plenty of upcoming games on major networks. Games against SEC rivals Mississippi State (January 20), Tennessee (February 2) and Texas A&M (March 1) will air on ESPN2, as will a non-conference game against UConn (February 10). Most other South Carolina games will be shown on either SEC Network or SEC Network Plus.