The Sky’s the Limit, “Hoop” for the Stars or Shoot for the Star.
“When my name was called that night I was ecstatic! It took a minute to register at first, but shortly after, shock turned to celebration!”
From a small island, to Division 1 college basketball, to pro ball with the WNBA; Mikiah Herbert Harrigan, officially and affectionately coined “Mad Kiki”, is a force to be reckoned with!
Mikiah was born and raised in Island Harbour, Anguilla, a small island in the Caribbean, to mother, Michelle Herbert. Her grandfather, DR. William V. Herbert, was the first United Nations Ambassador to the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis.
Mikiah, also known to many as Kiki, fell in love with sports at a young age. She loved track and field, where she excelled at high jump, and she played sports such as tennis and netball with her mother and younger sister. Kiki attended local basketball games with her family and she played around on the court during halftime sessions, but this was the extent of her basketball stint in Anguilla, because it was not recognized as a female sport on the island.
The summer of 2011, Kiki’s mom relocated to Miami and the family settled in the city of Pembroke Pines, Florida. Mikiah attended the Pines Middle School and it was there that she truly began her basketball journey, relying heavily on her netball skills.
Kiki transitioned into high school and attended Flanagan High, also located in Pembroke Pines, FL. Although she played basketball in middle school, it was during her freshman of high school, that she discovered a true love and passion for the game. She played ball with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) with the Miami Suns team and improved her skills over the years. By the end of her senior year, she won “Player of the State” for Florida and was stamped “Queen of the Court.” As a result, she received countless offers, with athletic scholarship opportunities, from Division 1 universities, accepting an offer from the University of South Carolina. The Gamecocks was deemed one of the top ranking teams in the league and during her freshman year, they won the championship.
In her senior year, March 2020, during the SEC tournament, Mikiah was awarded MVP, an achievement that was the pinnacle of her collegiate experience. She dominated on the court, with exceptional offensive skills and equally excelled on the defensive end and her power and aggression lead her to being coined, “Mad Kiki.”
Following this game, the coronavirus outbreak was ruled a worldwide pandemic and life was altered in ways unimaginable. Social distancing measures were put in place, and as a result, the SEC tournament was her last college game. The South Carolina Gamecocks were ranked the #1 team in the country and most favored to win the National Championship for the second time during her college career. It was a disappointing time for the coach and players, but the health and safety of the league and the fans was more important.
Kiki ended her college career second in blocked shots in the Gamecocks’ program history, joining two other past players to amass over 1,000 points and 200 blocks in their careers. She averaged 13.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game as a senior.
There were a number of life-altering experiences as a result of the pandemic, but Kiki expressed to CEM that she is grateful for the opportunity to spend time with her family. She advised that college classes continued virtually and she is now a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice!
“My mom, my uncle and my entire family were instrumental in my success as they were extremely supportive, with my mom and uncle Bonty attending a number of my games. They would travel across the country to watch me play and I am extremely blessed and grateful for their support.”
Following a successful college basketball career, Kiki was drafted for the WNBA. Due to the pandemic, the draft was televised and an anxious Kiki, while tuned in with her family, was a first round draft pick assigned to the Minnesota Lynx team. We asked her to share with us the feeling that came over her when she learned she was being drafted and her response, “surreal.” She told CEM she never doubted herself because she had improved on and off the court, but the thought of it coming to fruition was euphoric. Growing up on a tiny island in the Caribbean, 35 square miles, to being drafted for the WNBA, was a childhood dream that, to Kiki, seemed impossible; but her drive and determination made attainable.
We were interested to learn Kiki’s thoughts about her future had she stayed in Anguilla, and she pondered, “If I had stayed in Anguilla, as opposed to moving to Pembroke Pines, I would not have had the same opportunities. My hopes is that the powers that be in the Caribbean islands, can come together to brainstorms ways to improve sport facilities and formulate innovative ideas to enhance sports programs throughout the Caribbean, in an effort to increase opportunities for scholarships abroad.”
Kiki’s parting words included advice to young girls, with dreams and aspirations to partake in male-dominated sports; “Work hard and always believe in yourself! It does not matter your background or circumstance, let that be the motivation to propel you to success and let hard work and determination be the drivers for your dreams to manifest.”