Why Chloe Kitts Became A South Carolina Gamecock

WHN | Feb 8, 2024

By Brandolyn Hellams “Let’s shock the world!” That’s what Chloe Kitts said as she gave Dawn Staley a hug while…

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By Brandolyn Hellams

“Let’s shock the world!” That’s what Chloe Kitts said as she gave Dawn Staley a hug while visiting to announce her commitment to play for the then reigning National Champion South Carolina Gamecocks. Coach Staley says that an in person commit has never been done in her program before. 

Chloe Kitts was the no.17 recruit in the 2023 class. She had offers from several schools across the country, including Louisville, Duke, Oklahoma just to name a few. Of course, there was only one University that could get a yes.

“When Dawn showed up there was like a fire in her that I had never seen, and I was like what’s going on?” Words from Chole Kitts’ mother Krystle.

Both Krystle and Chloe’s dad Krystle are taking a trip down memory lane as they recall the time Coach Staley took a trip to Chicago to see Chloe in action. Jason says that to their knowledge, Dawn hadn’t come to see Chloe play until almost the end of the viewing period of Chloe’s Jr. year but when they met her they instantly knew that she wanted more for their daughter than just basketball.

“What Dawn brings to the table, the way she treats these female athletes, the way that she’s a role model… and the way she’s able to care about community and all of these important things.”

Jason and Krystle say Staley’s character is what shines more than anything. As mentioned earlier, Kitts was a highly sought after recruit.  She had done a couple visits, but her mom says she could just tell after the visit to the University of South Carolina, that Chloe knew that’s where she wanted to go.

Now remember, Chloe Kitts was the no. 17 recruit in the class of 2023, which means she wasn’t set to arrive at South Carolina until the 2023-24 season. Chloe decided to forgo her senior year in high school and enroll early.  Chole’s dad says on their visit Dawn says to him “can you get her here in December?” He spoke to Chloe about it, and they made the decision to get started! 

In the 2022-23 season Kitts saw limited minutes and averaged 1.6 ppg. This season her minutes have nearly tripled, and she’s averaging 9.8 ppg.  Something that her family isn’t surprised by at all. In this season’s game against LSU, Chloe was the spark in the first quarter. She kept the Gamecocks in it, and some even go as far to say that South Carolina does not win that game without her. 

Jason says another thing he wanted Chloe to learn from the Gamecock program is to trust the process. Chloe didn’t red shirt her first year, which means she’ll have the traditional number of eligibility. Krystle says they knew when Chloe decided to enroll early that the number one recruiting class would still be on the roster as well, but they wanted Chloe to earn her minutes. 

“We know that they already had Aliyah, Zia, Victaria… so that could be scary right?” Not much can scare Kitts. She’s gone bucket for bucket, rebound for rebound with some of the top recruits in the nation.

“When you decide to come to South Carolina, there are a lot of things you could be sacrificing but there’s a lot of good leaders that our kid is learning from.”

 The drive from Florida to South Carolina is about 6 hours, but that doesn’t stop the Kitts’ from seeing every game they can. The Gamecocks will take on the UCONN Huskies on Super Bowl Sunday, but as one of the most anticipated games of the year, it certainly can be known as the Super Bowl of women’s basketball. You best believe that mom and dad will be in the crowd cheering their daughter and the rest of her teammates on. Family has always been a priority, so the culture of the Gamecocks and their “Fams” was an easy fit.

Chloe and Bree Hall are good friends on and off the court. The Kitts’ say that Bree Hall was instrumental in Chloe’s recruiting process.  They credit her for Chloe’s ease into transition, and many can tell. When the then unranked South Carolina Men’s basketball team beat at the time no.6 Kentucky, the ladies led the pack in storming the court.  Those are the moments they want for their daughter.  Another family away from her family in Florida. 

As the conversation with the Kitt’ came to a close, I asked the question “What do you want more than anything for your daughter?”  Jason says “Keep working… Don’t overthink it. Work hard to do whatever it is you want in life.” It seems that Chloe is working hard, we see the results on the court. There are 8 more games left in the regular season. Right now the Gamecocks are number one in the SEC and in the country. 

The ladies always say they take everything one game at a time, but of course the biggest goal is to win a national championship. The pre-season rankings had them ranked 6th in the country. After a dominating win in their season opener against Notre Dame, the Gamecocks immediately moved back to number one, and haven’t left since. Players, parents and “fams” all have the same mentality, and Jason Kitts may have said it best… “We don’t like to lose.”

Brandolyn Hellams is a journalist and producer in Atlanta, who covers sports and entertainment.

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