**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Allen Sharpe**
When assistant coach Nikki McCray-Penson accepted the head coaching job at Old Dominion University, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley found herself with a void on the coaching staff.
On Friday, the Gamecocks officially announced the replacement, and it's a homegrown coach.
Former Tennessee assistant Jolette Law will join Staley's staff after five years with the Lady Vols. Law is a native of Florence, and she had an outstanding four-year career for Wilson High School and was a three-time All-American.
She played at Iowa before coaching at Ball State and Rutgers, and spent five seasons as the head coach at Illinois before joining Tennessee's staff. Law was an instrumental coach and recruiter and helped the Lady Vols snag the nation's No. 1 recruiting class in 2017.
"Amazing how things come full circle," Law said in a statement. "I grew up a Gamecock fan, and today I'm proud to say that I am officially part of the Gamecock family. I chose to become a Gamecock for three reasons. First, it brings me closer to my mom, family and friends in Florence. Second, I get to work with Dawn Staley, a good friend who also happens to be a Hall of Famer, an Olympic coach and national champion. Third, the family culture and authentic spirit of the administration, women's basketball staff, the young ladies on the team and everyone that touches the program is real."
South Carolina is currently receiving the opportunity to start team practice early because of an upcoming trip to Japan on June 27. The Gamecocks will play three exhibition games against the Japan national team, and it's the first international trip under Staley.
Photo gallery (photos by Allen Sharpe)
The Gamecocks wrapped up their fifth practice of the summer on Friday, and it's already given the team a head start in their preparations for the upcoming trip. As an added boost, Law will get an early start to her Gamecock coaching career as she will travel with the team as well.
She'll be able to work with the team and the unfamiliar players and find out everyone's tendencies well before most other teams start practice for the 2017-18 season.
Staley was excited to bring Law on board, and for her it's a win-win situation for everyone involved.
"With her current situation, she's able to see her family and mom and everyone is excited," Staley said. "Every time we play Tennessee, (Law's family) brings busloads. Hopefully they'll be wearing Garnet instead of that other color."
Two years ago when the Gamecocks needed to make an assistant hire after the departure of Darius Taylor, Staley filled the position rather quickly and didn't even realize that Law was interested in returning back to the Palmetto State.
However, after McCray-Penson recently accepted the head job at Old Dominion, there was another opening and Staley knew exactly who she was going to go after.
"She's a great addition to our staff," Staley said. "I've known Jolette for a long time."
South Carolina will return from its trip to Japan on July 5 and received 10 team practices because of the international trip.