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. 

Basketball Australia has apologized for a mistaken hair policy WNBA guard Tiffany Mitchell said was “clear racial discrimination” in an Instagram post Sunday.

Mitchell, who’s playing for the Melbourne Boomers during the WNBA offseason, filed a complaint to the league about a policy that required players with long braids to tie them up or put them in a bun. Basketball Australia had sent an email to team general managers about rules that would be enforced during the season, citing the the hair rule that had been removed from FIBA’s rulebooks but not from the WNBL.

In a statement on Saturday, BA said it had “reviewed the rule” Mitchell said unfairly targeted Black players and removed it from the rulebook.

“The policy has been deemed discriminatory and inconsistent with Basketball Australia’s Diversity and Inclusion framework by the WNBL Commission,” the statement read. “It is also not enforced in either the WNBL, other leading professional women’s leagues around the world or international competitions such as the Olympics and World Cup. To this end, the WNBL Commission has removed the policy, effective immediately.

“Basketball Australia makes an unreserved apology for any anguish and pain that was caused by this rule.”

Mitchell and her Melbourne teammates took a knee during the national anthem before their game on Saturday to protest the policy, which Basketball Australia rescinded that same day.

“I’ve played all around the world, in every top league at the highest level and my braids has never been an issue,” Mitchell wrote on Instagram. “The target I felt I had on my bad was indescribable but still played with all the disappoint I felt from Basketball Australia.

“I am completely thankful for my club as they stood behind my teammate and myself that had braids and they were very supportive. It gave me a sense of comfort knowing that the ladies that I suit up with every night had my teammate and I backs.”

Mitchell is a shooting guard for the Indiana Fever. The South Carolina product was the ninth overall pick of the Fever in the 2016 WNBA Draft.