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Holly MacKenzie

Laeticia Amihere drafted 8th overall by the Atlanta Dream



Apr 11, 2023

Laeticia Amihere is headed to the Dream.

The 21-year-old Mississauga native was selected eighth overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2023 WNBA Draft on Monday night. She is the seventh Canadian to be selected in the first round in WNBA Draft and she is the highest Canadian drafted since Kayla Alexander in 2013.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="qme" dir="ltr"><a href="">@AtlantaDream</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Laeticia Amihere (@_Theblackqueen_) <a href="">April 11, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

After a stellar four-year career with the South Carolina Gamecocks, Amihere is ready to begin the next phase in a brilliant basketball career.

“I've been in a background where winning has been my culture,” Amihere said. “I've been winning for most of my life. Obviously [was] very successful at South Carolina. I want to bring that winning culture to Atlanta. I know that that is their plan. That is what they're trying to do. They're on the rise right now, and that's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to bring a winning culture into the program.”

Amihere is thrilled to be able to call Atlanta her new home.

“Atlanta is a great city,” she said. “I love Atlanta. It's only about three and a half hours from South Carolina. So I know the Gamecocks are going to show up loud and proud.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">🏀 6’4” <br>🏀 Forward<br>🏀 from <a href="">@GamecockWBB</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Atlanta Dream (@AtlantaDream) <a href="">April 10, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

The 6-foot-4 forward won a National Championship with South Carolina in 2022 and was part of the school’s heralded 2019 recruiting class who finished their last four seasons with a combined 94 percent win rate and just one loss at home.

While Amihere was selected eighth overall, South Carolina teammate Aliyah Boston was the No. 1 pick in the draft, selected by the Indiana Fever. Zia Cooke went 10th overall to the Los Angeles Sparks, Brea Beal went 24th overall to the Minnesota Lynx and Victoria Saxton was selected 25th overall by Indiana to make it five Gamecocks selected.

“It's an amazing experience really because this group of girls have been through life together,” Amihere said. “These four years haven't been only about basketball, but it's about growing as women together. Being able to be with them on one of our biggest nights has just been an amazing experience.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The dream merchant <a href="">@dawnstaley</a> with a 𝙬𝙤𝙧𝙙 ... and the receipts to back it up! <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; South Carolina Women&#39;s Basketball (@GamecockWBB) <a href="">April 11, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

“Coach Staley is a phenomenal coach,” Amihere said. “I mean that wholeheartedly, not just for her coaching style, but as a person she cares so deeply for us. When I came here I had a vision, but she also had a vision for me. She said, L.A., don't worry. That's what she would always say, because obviously I'm not getting as many minutes as I would at a different program. She said, L.A., don't worry, I got you. She stood with that promise, and I'm here now because of her and because of the coaching staff that believed in me.

“I'm so thankful for who she is and what she has done for my journey,” Amihere continued.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="">@_Theblackqueen_</a> first rounder let’s goooo! Who knew?! We KNEW! <a href="">@AtlantaDream</a> what’s good?</p>&mdash; dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) <a href="">April 10, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Amihere averaged 7.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 blocks in 15.9 minutes per game for the Gamecocks this season. She regularly appeared on the highlight reels, going viral for her dominant blocked shots, but it was her energy on both ends of the floor that made her a crucial X-Factor as part of South Carolina’s dominant bench.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Confident for a reason – <a href="">@_Theblackqueen_</a> has 𝙖𝙡𝙡 the tools to thrive in the <a href="">@WNBA</a>! <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GamecocksToTheW</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; South Carolina Women&#39;s Basketball (@GamecockWBB) <a href="">April 7, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

“Defence is my passion,” Amihere said. “That’s something that I prided myself on. I’m lengthy, I disrupt and I’m going to go after it. That’s something that I can promise to Atlanta: Whether it’s a night that I get a couple minutes or a lot of minutes, I’m going to go out there and give it my all because something that I’ve always prided myself on is defence and trying to get possessions for my team.”

During offseasons at South Carolina, Amihere was often wearing a Team Canada jersey. A current member of the Senior Women’s National Team who most recently placed fourth in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022, Amihere also won a gold medal at the 2015 FIBA Americas Under-16 Championship for Women, as well as a bronze with the U-19 team at the 2017 FIBA Under-19 Women’s Basketball World Cup.

“Playing on the National Team, playing for Canada has been something that I take pride in,” she said. “Obviously I'm wearing my Olympic necklace because it just means so much for me. But what means the most to me is those little girls that are looking. I have a nonprofit, and building up the women that are underserved and those women that are not getting those exposures, like the powerhouses in the United States and the bigger countries that have that, is my biggest goal.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">YESSSSS LA!! 🙌🏽👏🏽🇨🇦🤍 <a href="">@_Theblackqueen_</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Natalie Achonwa (@NatAchon) <a href="">April 10, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Amihere became just the eighth first-round pick hailing from Canada in WNBA Draft history and the highest selection since 2013, when fellow Senior Women’s National Team forward Kayla Alexander was selected eighth-overall.

As impressive as Amihere's basketball resume already is, the mark she leaves at South Carolina extends well away from the court as well. The Mississauga native was named to the SEC Women's Basketball Community Service Team in 2020, 2021, and 2022 for her work in the community and also served as the head of South Carolina's diversity and Inclusion committee.  Amihere founded the nonprofit Back to the Motherland in 2022 with the goal to provide access through sports to underserved populations and minority groups across North America, as well as in Africa.

She wants to use her own success story to inspire those watching her journey.

“All those Canadians and all those people that are not only Canadian but in West Africa in countries that are underserved and overlooked, you can make it,” she said. “I promise you can because I was that kid, and I'm on the biggest stage now. I'm trying to pave a way for all those young women. So yeah, just keep going, because trust me, basketball is on the rise for women.”