Heathwood Hall coaches, students react to Wilson's success

South Carolina forward A'ja Wilson (22) holds the trophy as she and her teammates celebrate a win over Mississippi State in the final of NCAA women's Final Four college basketball tournament, Sunday, April 2, 2017, in Dallas. South Carolina won 67-55. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

COLUMBIA, S.C.-- A'ja Wilson made Gamecock nation proud as she helped USC's Women's Basketball team claim the 2017 National Championship. However, those most proud of the 20-year-old standout hail from home.

Wilson played on the Varsity Girl's Basketball team at Heathwood Hall, and her former coach isn't surprised the former star player is now a champion.

"She had that personality. You knew she was going to be something special one day," said John O'Cain, Wilson's high school coach. He added, "She was that superstar without the superstar mentality. She's still like that. I've always said she's a better person than she is basketball player. "

Current Varsity Girl's Basketball coach Rich Edwards remembers Wilson putting in extra work at a young age. He said, "She would come in on the weekends and work. Her dad Roscoe, her brother Ronaldo would come to the gym and work with her when she was a 7th grader. And she really had the drive to be where she is right now."

Her personality and talent continues to impact Heathwood, with current students absorbing her accomplishments and using it as motivation.

Current Heathwood student Rachel Whittaker said, "She works so hard and just to see that. Even when I was in middle school to see her work so hard at what she does.Just inspires me to want to be like her in that way. And to really just put on my best effort."

As Wilson rides the wave of a monumental achievement, Heathwood Hall celebrates with her and hopes she stays true to herself in the process.

Edwards said, "Don't change. Be yourself. Enjoy what you do. Continue to smile. And wear the pearls."

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