Why Loyal McQueen turned down South Carolina offer, landed with Alabama women's basketball

Maxwell Donaldson
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama women's basketball guard Loyal McQueen has taken a unique route to join the Crimson Tide out of South Carolina.

At first glance, her journey looks to be a fairly common one of an athlete picking one school out of high school and transferring to a second one later. That doesn't account for the offers from South Carolina and Clemson that she got as an eighth-grader or having to change her commitment from North Carolina to Georgia Tech.

McQueen, in her first season with Crimson Tide, has helped it get back to the NCAA Tournament as a 10-seed. The Crimson Tide will face 7-seed Baylor on Saturday (4:30 p.m. CT, ESPN2). She has averaged 6.8 points a game, tied for fifth on the team, with two assist a game as the team's backup point guard.

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South Carolina Offer

McQueen, a native of Florence, South Carolina, didn't start playing basketball until she was around 7 when she went to a local basketball camp. It was there that the coaches realized she had potential. McQueen joined a seventh-grade AAU team as a sixth-grader. With the team being out of Columbia, South Carolina, Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley ended up at one of their tournaments.

From there, an assistant coach for the Gamecocks would come to games, which led to McQueen attending a camp at South Carolina. Her father, Derrick McQueen, remembers Loyal played well during those camps, which lead to a call from Staley and an offer before she was in eighth grade.

"While we were happy, we weren't sure how to take it. I was like, 'Loyal you really got an opportunity to play at the next level but to be able to play Power 5," Derrick McQueen said. "That's really special, and we felt like it was really special."

Her father, who played basketball at Wake Forest and was boy's basketball coach at her high school, asked her if she wanted to commit to playing basketball at the next level. She did. When it came time to pick a college, Georgia Tech's style of play and academics won out over in-state options.

Coming to Alabama

When McQueen entered the transfer portal, it was in the middle of the season. Her commitment to Alabama came on Dec. 14, 2021. Once Alabama realized she was in the portal, coaches knew they had to act quickly to secure her commitment.

"The minute we saw she hit the portal, we felt like she fit the style of play. We have been able to play more of a fast pace with adding Loyal to our roster," coach Kristy Curry said. "It's something that we want to continue to do in the future. She's just a big piece of what we're doing."

McQueen joined the Crimson Tide ahead of the spring semester in 2022 but was only able to practice due to NCAA rules for midseason transfers. It allowed her an opportunity to learn the Alabama system. She said it "was probably the best decision that I made."