South Carolina Mississippi State SEC Tournament 2020

Mikiah Herbert Harrigan after the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament Final against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday, March 8, 2020, at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C.

When Latravis Bernard meets the players in his incoming freshman class, the basketball coach at Flanagan High School (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) asks them a question: Are you just playing basketball to play basketball, or do you want it to take you somewhere?

In 2012, he received an answer he had never heard before.

“Coach, I want to play in the WNBA.”

It came from the mouth of Mikiah Herbert Harrigan.

Fast forward eight years, after a successful career at South Carolina, that time has come for the defensive wizard and midrange jump shot machine.

Herbert Harrigan spoke with Spurs & Feathers Wednesday from her home in South Florida — where she has been since South Carolina captured the SEC Tournament title — about her WNBA goals and her thoughts on the cancellation of the NCAA Tournament because of COVID-19.

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The 6-2 forward — who averaged 13.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game this past season and was named the SEC Tournament Most Outstanding Player — learned the tournament was canceled on Twitter and moments later received confirmation from SC head coach Dawn Staley.

“I was heartbroken. It hurt a lot knowing that we really had the pieces to compete for a national championship. And, you know, win a national championship,” she said. “It was heartbreaking. But everything happens for a reason, I guess.”

Herbert Harrigan was then asked what she would think if the Gamecocks’ were named national champions.

“I would have preferred to work and win the games to win the national championship,” she said. “If they were to give us the national championship it wouldn’t feel the same.”

She later said she would be OK with South Carolina raising a banner that honored the team’s season-ending No. 1 ranking.

Now Herbert Harrigan has her sights set on the WNBA Draft, which will take place April 17 (ESPN, 7 p.m.). 

For now, with gyms closed because of social distancing restrictions, her workouts have consisted of outdoor jogs and in-home weight training with her mom.

“Just getting ready for training camp. I spoke to a couple [WNBA] coaches and I have some meetings scheduled with some more. And I’m in the process of picking an agent,” she said. “… The feedback is really good. I know a lot of coaches told me my draft stock raised, especially at the SEC Tournament.”

Herbert Harrigan averaged 14.7 points in SC’s three wins at the tournament, a stretch that was topped by a 15-point performance against Mississippi State in the championship game. She had six blocks in the three games, including three in the title game.

At 6-2, Herbert Harrigan may have to adjust from being an interior presence who has the ability to stretch the floor to more of a perimeter-oriented player. “I’m open to new challenges, so that won’t be an issue,” she said.

She also said she’s open to playing overseas as well as in the WNBA. “If I have the opportunity, I would definitely do both,” she said.

But for now, Herbert Harrigan has her focus on the WNBA and the upcoming draft.

That comment she made back in high school is one day closer to becoming reality.