No. 1 South Carolina basketball is off to a historic start. The Gamecocks are averaging 107.0 points per game through their first two games of the season, shooting them up the AP Top 25 from No. 6 to No. 1.
Such high-quality play is not uncommon under head coach Dawn Staley. And it shows in the program’s WNBA legacy.
Staley has coached the Gamecocks since 2008, and since then, she’s helped produce multiple WNBA stars. Reigning WNBA Finals MVP A’ja Wilson, 2023 Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston, Tiffany Mitchell, Allisha Gray, Laeticia Amihere and more professional players came from Staley’s program.
“We produce pros,” Staley said. “The very best in the league. And if that’s not proof in the pudding, then this isn’t the place for you.”
South Carolina women’s basketball didn’t have this winning reputation when Staley took the helm in 2008, though.
In 2008 and 2009, Staley and the Gamecocks had losing seasons. But every season thereafter, their record improved. South Carolina secured its first No. 1 ranking and its first Final Four appearance during the 2014-15 season. By 2022, the Gamecocks have appeared in four Final Fours and they’ve collected seven SEC tournament victories and two NCAA championships, among other accolades.
Staley referred to her players as “the storytellers of the program.” While that may be true, South Carolina basketball likely would not have the WNBA pedigree that it has today without Staley’s coaching and guidance.