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Why UConn, South Carolina, and Stanford will dominate next college basketball season


Stanford held on to win its first national championship since 1992, topping Arizona, 54-53. In both Final Four games, Stanford had to survive a last-second shot. Aliyah Boston’s put-back came inches away from knocking the Cardinal out in the semis, while Aari McDonald’s championship heave likewise fell just short.

Putting it in perspective: 

  • Stanford is the first team in college hoops history to win both Final Four games by a single point.
  • The 29-year gap between national titles for head coach Tara VanDerveer is the longest in any NCAA DI sport, women’s or men’s.

Stanford will return much of its core next season, while fellow Final Four squads South Carolina and UConn will reload with the nation’s two best recruiting classes.

UConn’s Paige Bueckers may have just completed the best individual freshman season in college basketball history, having won the AP, Naismith and Wooden POTY awards.

  • Next year, she’ll share a backcourt with Azzi Fudd, a generational talent and the No. 1 recruit in the incoming class. Watch out.

UConn may have the top recruit, but South Carolina has No. 2, 3 and 4: Raven Johnson, Saniya Rivers, and Sania Feagin.

  • Add that trio to the Gamecocks’ veteran core of Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke, Brea Beal and Laeticia Amihere, and South Carolina could enter next year as the prohibitive favorites.

Stanford, for their part, will need to replace their backcourt of Kiana Williams and Anna Wilson, but they’ll still have enough experience to contend for a title.

  • Haley Jones will be back, and will likely take over as a primary ball handler. Cameron Brink was a defensive force in the Final Four, while fellow 6’5” forward Ashten Prechtel proved to be a lethal three point shooter.

ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 10

  1. UConn
  2. South Carolina
  3. Stanford
  4. Baylor
  5. Maryland
  6. Louisville
  7. Indiana
  8. NC State
  9. Iowa
  10. Oregon