Just when you think the loss of Aliyah Boston next year will alter the college basketball landscape, the South Carolina women’s basketball team reminds you just how deep its talent runs.
Dawn Staley’s prowess on the recruiting trail has been evident over the last few weeks, the Gamecocks’ well of talent also has shown up on the court — particularly in the performance of freshman Ashlyn Watkins.
Watkins, who was the No. 12 prospect in the nation coming out of high school, threw down the first dunk in South Carolina history Thursday in the team’s 85-31 road win over Clemson.
ASHLYN WATKINS OH MY GOODNESS!!! PUT THIS ON REPEAT!📺: ACCN, https://t.co/1PPdzEpNBD pic.twitter.com/hEvvX6lkvv— South Carolina Women's Basketball (@GamecockWBB) November 18, 2022
ASHLYN WATKINS OH MY GOODNESS!!! PUT THIS ON REPEAT!📺: ACCN, https://t.co/1PPdzEpNBD pic.twitter.com/hEvvX6lkvv
Watkins becomes the ninth player in NCAA history to dunk in a women’s college basketball game, joining former college stars such as Candace Parker, Sylvia Fowles and Brittney Griner.
The move shouldn’t come as a surprise from the player who won the McDonald’s All-American Dunk Contest in March. She said Thursday on the broadcast that she’s practicing her dunks “any chance that I can get.”
“Every time I have a fast break I just look around to see if I have the opportunity, and I had the opportunity,” Watkins told the ACC Network broadcast.
Staley said that while she knew Watkins was capable, the dunk still came as a surprise.
“She wasn’t really dribbling the ball up the floor smoothly. She kind of rolled it a bit and I thought she was just gonna put it up over the rim,” Staley said. “I’ve seen her do it a million times, but never on this level in front of me with her on our team, so that was cool.”
For senior guard Zia Cooke, who led the Gamecocks with 15 points in the win, Watkins’ dunk was a first.
“I walked up to her and was like, ‘Do you even know what you just did?’ … That was my first time ever seeing a girl dunk in a game live in action,” Cooke told GamecockStop. “It was definitely shocking to me to see.”