Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Everyone inside Heathwood Hall's gym was thrilled to see prep star A'ja Wilson announce Wednesday that she would play college ball at South Carolina.
However, their excitement may not have matched what was going on at the offices of USC Head Coach Dawn Staley and her coaching staff.
Previous Coverage: A'Ja Wilson will play at USC
For months, Staley and her assistants courted Wilson, the number one player in America, by going to her games and trying to make her feel that the right decision would be to stay in her hometown. And for months, they'd waited as Wilson took her time deciding her college future.
When the coaches went to work Wednesday, they didn't know which Wilson might go. Everyone knew that the star player had narrowed her list to four schools: USC, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Connecticut, the reigning national champions.
So just like everyone else, they were waiting for Wilson's scheduled mid-afternoon announcement at her high school gym. But before that took place, they got a little surprise.
Staley described what happened next.
"We were all in the office and were glued to the television. We didn't know whether or not we were going to get the call or not, and I think we got it maybe about 20 minutes before she made her announcement and the TV was up loud and we were all chatting away and I said 'it's Aja.'"
"I said, 'hey Aja' she was like, 'hey Coach Staley' in this somber voice. So I kind of, you know, rolled my eyes up, because her voice sounded so dejected and i wasn't really prepared to hear anything other than that she was coming. But then she was like, 'the reason why I was calling' and she paused...and then she said 'the reason why I'm calling is because I'm coming to play for you this fall. And then I know our office was louder than Heathwood Hall today. I know it. and she was on the phone for probably just holding the phone for five minutes while we screamed at the top of our lungs and jumped around and it was an awesome experience."
Wilson herself backed up that account.
"My ear was just ringing, Wilson said. "She's just screaming so much and that's when I heard the staff scream and I couldn't get anything else out I just heard screaming.And I was like well i have to go now, and they said 'okay.'"
Wilson completed a prized recruiting class that ended up ranked second in the nation by ESPN.