South Carolina set to play prominent Gamecocks transfer in Final Four

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No. 1 South Carolina’s Final Four opponent is set, and the team the Gamecocks will play in the Final Four next Friday in Cleveland features a very familiar face.

No. 3 NC State upset No. 1 Texas, 76-66, in the Portland 4 regional final on Sunday afternoon to secure its spot in the Final Four and face USC, the Albany 1 regional champion, in the national semifinals.

Wolfpack guard Saniya Rivers was a freshman for coach Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks in 2021-22 as they won the second national championship in program history. But Rivers entered the transfer portal less than two weeks after USC won the 2022 national championship.

She wound up at NC State, which was far closer to home for the Wilmington, North Carolina, native, who ranked as the No. 3 overall recruit in her class.

“Everyone was calling me crazy for leaving a championship team,” Rivers told Wrightsville Beach Magazine in July 2022 of her transfer to USC. “It really just wasn’t a good fit for me personally.”

Rivers was the ACC Sixth Player of the Year as a sophomore and was averaging 12.7 points per game as a starting guard for the Wolfpack entering Sunday’s regional final. Rivers had 11 points on 5-17 shooting plus five assists and five rebounds in NC State’s win over Texas on Sunday.

The Wolfpack, who beat No. 2 Stanford in the Sweet 16, advance to only the second Final Four in program history. NC State and Rivers will play Staley’s Gamecocks at a TBD time next Friday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. The other semifinal will be determined Monday.