Dawn Staley has turned South Carolina into a modern day powerhouse in women’s basketball. With two national championships, seven SEC championships and five Final Four appearances, Gamecocks women’s basketball is the flagship program of success for South Carolina.
Last season had a bittersweet ending, as the program said goodbye to the talented recruiting class of 2019. Headlined by unanimous WNBA Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston, five Gamecock seniors were drafted to the WNBA.
Dawn Staley’s track record for program success is unquestioned. Yet the Gamecocks came into this season ranked sixth in the AP Poll. Some media critics suggested it would be a rebuilding year for the program.
Their response? Two consecutive victories over ranked opponents by a combined 67 points. Woah. So much for a rebuild.
Names to know
Staley’s Gamecocks returned to number one in the AP Poll this week. Senior center Kamilla Cardoso took home SEC player of the week honors last week. She’s averaging 16 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game thus far. ESPN has Cardoso projected fourth in their latest 2024 Mock Draft.
Another standout for the Gamecocks is Senior guard Te-Hina Paopao who transferred from Oregon this season. Through her first two games she’s averaging 14 points and seven assists per game and shooting 50% from three, leading the team.
And of course there’s flashy Freshman guard MiLaysia Fulwiley who set social media on fire against Notre Dame with a behind-the-back reverse layup and no-look pass.
Dawn Staley continues to make history and look adversity and doubters in the face. South Carolina’s first game against Notre Dame made history as the first college basketball game, men’s or women’s, to be played in Paris.
Staley’s background as a three-time gold medalist and six-time WNBA all-star already made her a popular figure in the sport, but her coaching prowess has made her a legend.
Colorado football coach Deion Sanders praised Staley ahead of the Paris matchup.
“Coach Staley, I love you. I appreciate you, what you bring to those young ladies,” Sanders said in a video on Twitter. “What you’ve accomplished in life, in victory, in defeat, how classy, how strong, the bravado, the compassion, the love that you give off, it’s infectious.”
And Staley’s infectious love has given dawn to ANOTHER new era of Gamecocks women’s basketball.
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