all scores

South Carolina’s ‘Freshies’ rank among top players in WNBA draft pool

Brea Beal, Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke and Olivia Thompson all are moving on from South Carolina. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

This year’s WNBA draft class features a stacked lineup, led by Aliyah Boston and South Carolina’s “Freshies.”

The Gamecocks’ freshmen from the 2019-20 season are now primed to enter the professional ranks.

Boston is expected to go No. 1 overall to the Indiana Fever, and her teammates could follow closely behind her. Brea Beal, Laeticia Amihere and Zia Cooke all are potential first-round picks, with Beal and Amihere going in the top 12 in the latest mock draft from ESPN, while Cooke is in the top 12 in the most recent mock from Just Women’s Sports.

All four were part of a senior class at South Carolina that went 129-9 during their careers, advancing to three Final Fours and winning the 2022 national championship. 

“We wanted to be the best class to ever come in. I feel like we did that,” Beal said following the team’s Final Four loss.

Boston, Beal and Cooke were four-year starters. Beal hit career-highs in shooting 3s this season, at 38 percent. Cooke, meanwhile, had a career-best season this year with the Gamecocks, averaging 15.4 points per game. She won the Ann Meyer Drysdale Award this year as the best shooting guard in the country.

And if you ask Cooke, their time together isn’t done. 

“It’s not over, we’ve got so much success in front of us,” she told ABC 25 Columbia. “All of us. I think this was just a chapter of our life that we were able to spend together. And now we’re all gonna all divide off and go our separate ways. But I just know there’s greatness that’s going to happen throughout all of us and I can’t wait for us to get back together.”