Kiki Iriafen to transfer to USC, bolstering Trojans' national title hopes

Former Harvard-Westlake star Kiki Iriafen is coming home.

The former Stanford forward has committed to USC out of the transfer portal, she told ESPN on Saturday, turning the Trojans into immediate national championship contenders. The 6-foot-3 forward, who was named the Pac-12’s most improved player last year, will join forces with national freshman of the year JuJu Watkins and the nation’s top recruiting class as the Trojans try to build on their first Elite Eight appearance since 1994.

Iriafen averaged 19.4 points and 11 rebounds for Stanford as a junior after just 6.7 points and 3.8 rebounds as a sophomore. She was named an honorable mention All-American while playing alongside Cameron Brink and leading the Cardinal to a Pac-12 regular season title. She scored a career-high 41 points to hold off Iowa State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The L.A. native, who was a McDonald’s All-American at Harvard-Westlake, graduated from Stanford in three years and entered the portal soon after Stanford’s legendary coach Tara VanDerveer announced her retirement.

Not only do the Trojans add a dynamic post presence with Iriafen, but coach Lindsay Gottlieb continues to build a roster with local stars who can help draw growing crowds to Galen Center. Iriafen, Watkins, starting senior center Rayah Marshall (Lynwood High) and incoming freshman Kennedy Smith (Etiwanda High) are Southern California natives. Excitement surrounding Watkins helped the Trojans nearly quadruple their home attendance this season from the previous year, including a sell-out against UCLA.

The Bruins also added a verbal pledge from a former Pac-12 rival as Washington State guard Charlisse Leger-Walker committed to UCLA on Thursday. The New Zealand national team star who led the Cougars to their first conference tournament title in 2023 suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in a game at Pauley Pavilion in January. She was a four-time All-Pac-12 selection and three-time honorable mention All-American averaging 16.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists for her career.

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