Utah may have lost to top-ranked South Carolina on Sunday, but Utes star Alissa Pili showcased why she could be a first-round pick in the 2024 WNBA draft.

Pili had a career game in Utah’s 78-69 loss to South Carolina, which was nearly a stunning upset from the Utes. She helped the team overcome an early 11-point deficit with a career-high 37 points, but while the Utes pulled within two points of the lead, the Gamecocks held on to remain undefeated.

On top of her 37 points, Pili went 15-of-23 from the field, with a team-high three 3-pointers. She also added three steals, two rebounds, one assist and one block.

“If I’m a WNBA GM, there’s no doubt in my mind that kid can play in the WNBA,” Utah associate head coach Gavin Petersen said. “She’s a winner, she’s an assassin in between the lines and she’s a great teammate.”

In the second period, Pili had 14 consecutive points for Utah before foul trouble put her on the bench. She finished the first half with 21 points.

“I’d much rather get the win and have Pili score 37 on us, then her score 37 with the win,” Dawn Staley told the Associated Press. “Now, that’s a little bit hard to swallow. But, utmost respect for Pili. I mean, Utah, I hope we don’t see them in the tournament and whoever does get to see them, good luck to you.”

If you ask Pili, her performance came down to sticking with what works.

“I just went out there and did my thing,” Pili said. “Let the game come to me. It’s better when I don’t think about it, because it just comes to me.”

March still has plenty of madness left for college basketball fans as the Sweet 16 tips off Friday, but as the season draws to a close, so too are the campaigns of the biggest stars in the game. There have been plenty of memorable performances this season, both by teams and individuals.

While the remaining 16 squads battle it out for the NCAA title, it’s time for individual awards. Here are my picks for Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Freshman of the Year and the All-American Teams.

Player of the Year: Caitlin Clark, Iowa

It’s been the year of Caitlin Clark in women’s basketball. The Iowa star is averaging 26.8 points per game (third in the country), 8.6 assists per game (first in the country) and 7.3 rebounds per game. Stats aren’t everything, but Clark’s paint a compelling picture. This season, she’s led her team to a 28-6 record, a Big Ten tournament title and, so far, an appearance in the Sweet 16 (the Hawkeyes play Colorado on Friday afternoon for a spot in the Elite Eight).

Thanks to her logo 3-pointers, Clark is regarded as a prolific scorer. The junior certainly knows how to put the ball in the basket, but there is much more to her game. Her ability to read the floor, run the fastbreak and find teammates with precise passes is also what sets her apart.

The Hawkeyes are an excellent offensive team, scoring an NCAA-leading 87.4 points per game. Offensively, everything that happens for Iowa happens because of Caitlin Clark. And for that reason, she’s my Player of the Year.

(Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports)

Coach of the Year: Lynne Roberts, Utah

In just one season, Roberts has elevated her team from a middle-of-the-pack Pac-12 squad (8-7 conference record, 21-12 overall in 2021-22), to one of the conference’s best contenders. The Utes finished the regular season with just four losses, including an undefeated record at home. They also reached their highest-ever AP ranking, rising to No. 3 at one point, and now find themselves in the Sweet 16 for just the third time in school history.

Roberts had a solid foundation last season, with players like Kennedy McQueen, Jenna Johnson, Gianna Keepkens and Issy Palmer all returning after a first-round victory in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. And while the Utes would have been good with that core, Roberts set out to make them great by securing Alissa Pili from USC in the transfer portal.

Roberts managed to integrate Pili into the lineup seamlessly and, with just one addition, changed the make-up of her entire team.

(Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

Defensive Player of the Year: Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

The reigning DPOY gets the nod once again as she continues to dominate for undefeated South Carolina. Boston has her team positioned as the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament once more, and her defense is a big reason why.

She’s averaging 2.0 blocks and 6.3 defensive rebounds per game, but more importantly, offenses have to game plan around the South Carolina big. She changes the way teams attack the Gamecocks because they have to be wary of her in the paint. Boston also allows her teammates to be aggressive in their defensive matchups because, if they get beat, she’s there to clean up with a block, an altered shot or a rebound.

South Carolina allows the fewest points per game in the country at 50.6, a statistic made possible by their rim protector.

(Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Freshman of the Year: Ta’Niya Latson

Unfortunately, Latson didn’t get to showcase her skills in the NCAA Tournament. An injury kept the guard on the bench during Florida State’s opening-round loss to Georgia, but she did enough during the regular season to secure the Freshman of the Year award.

Latson, a five-star recruit, more than lived up to the hype in her first season at Florida State. She helped her team to a 23-10 record after the Seminoles went 17-14 the season before. Her 21.9 points per game ranked 11th among all NCAA players, and she contributed 4.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Latson recorded 34 points twice this season, 32 points twice and 31 points on three separate occasions.

The guard was also consistent with her scoring, finishing with fewer than 15 points only five times this season, and scoring in double figures in 29 of 31 games.

Angel Reese broke Sylvia Fowles' LSU record with 20 consecutive double-doubles this season. (Andrew Nelles/USA TODAY NETWORK)


First Team

Caitlin Clark (Iowa), Aliyah Boston (South Carolina), Alissa Pili (Utah), Maddy Siegrist (Villanova), Angel Reese (LSU)

Second Team

Elizabeth Kitley (Virginia Tech), MaKenzie Holmes (Indiana), Diamond Miller (Maryland), Cameron Brink (Stanford), Olivia Miles (Notre Dame)

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

South Carolina is the clear choice for the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. After that, the battle for the No. 1 seeds gets considerably murkier.

Stanford and Indiana exposed cracks in their cases during their conference tournaments, while other teams climbed their way into the conversation. Which teams could land on the No. 1 line come Selection Sunday this weekend?

Cases for six contenders are presented below in alphabetical order. Check out Just Women’s Sports writer Eden Laase’s projected bracket for her best guess at the No. 1 seeds.

Indiana (27-3)

Despite ending the regular season with a loss to Iowa and then falling to Ohio State in the Big Ten semifinals, the Hoosiers might have the best argument for a No. 1 seed of any team on this list.

Their consistency in one of the toughest conferences stands out from the pack. They have a No. 5 NET ranking, and a five-point loss to Michigan State in December is the only blemish on their résumé.

Iowa (26-6)

If the selection committee gives more weight to recent form than to overall body of work, then the Hawkeyes could find themselves with a No. 1 seed.

While Iowa lost to Kansas State early in the season, its other nonconference losses (UConn and NC State) are not major knocks against the Hawkeyes. The team has peaked in the last two weeks with a buzzer-beating win over Indiana to close out the regular season followed by a Big Ten Tournament title. And Caitlin Clark’s star power will shine brightly in the NCAA Tournament field.

Stanford (28-5)

The Cardinal rank fourth in the NET and third in strength of schedule. So, even though their loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 semifinals hurts, they still would look at home on the top line.

Stanford has wins against Utah, UCLA and Arizona, plus the team gave South Carolina its toughest battle all season in a 76-71 overtime loss back in November.

UConn (28-5)

Before the Big East tournament, even UConn coach Geno Auriemma had doubts about his team’s postseason chances. But the Huskies have found a new life in March, helped by the return of Azzi Fudd, which makes them as dangerous as ever heading into March Madness.

Utah (25-4)

After a win over Stanford late in the regular season, Utah could have locked up a No. 1 seed with a strong Pac-12 tournament. But even after losing to Washington State, which went on to take the title, the Utes still have an impressive résumé, including wins over Arizona and Oklahoma.

Virginia Tech (27-4)

Did the Hokies’ ACC tournament title run make believers out of the selection committee? We’ll find out Sunday, but their 10-2 record against Quad 1 teams should impress.

Virginia Tech has not lost since dropping a road game to Duke back on Jan. 26, though its strength of schedule (No. 31) and NET ranking (No. 9) could put a dent in the team’s chances.

Utah suffered a stunning loss Thursday in the Pac-12 quarterfinals at the hands of Washington State. The defeat leaves the door wide open for the fourth and final No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Sure, the Utes could still end up as a top seed by the end of this weekend – after all, anything can happen in conference tournaments. But which other teams should be considered for the No. 1 line? Let’s take a look.


If all goes according to plan in the Big Ten Tournament, Iowa and Maryland will duke it out Saturday afternoon for a spot in Sunday’s final.

Had the Hawkeyes not lost to Maryland in the second-to-last game of the regular season, they would be a lock for the final No. 1 seed. But they did, and while Caitlin Clark’s last-second heroics in the season finale against Indiana bode well for the Iowa, the team needs to at least avenge that loss to Maryland to move into a top seed.


Heading into the season, few thought Maryland would have the chance for a No. 1 seed, given the high-profile transfers that left the program in the offseason.

Yet, here the Terrapins are, with wins over Iowa, Notre Dame, Michigan, UConn, Ohio State and Illinois on their impressive résumé. Utah’s loss has opened the door for the Terps, but they likely will have to beat Illinois and then Iowa in order to do make their case.


Despite head coach Kim Mulkey’s belief to the contrary, LSU does have an argument for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers’ strength of schedule hurts them, but they’ve remained consistent and only have one loss – to No. 1 South Carolina.

If LSU can manage to go all the way and win the SEC Tournament, and if Maryland and Iowa don’t advance to the Big Ten Tournament final, LSU could have a fighting chance.


The reality is, despite its loss Thursday, Utah still has a top-line résumé. The Utes have their recent win over Stanford, which itself looks destined for a No. 1 seed, as well as wins over Arizona and Oklahoma.

While Thursday’s loss to Washington State doesn’t help their chances, they shouldn’t be counted out, especially if other teams don’t perform to expectation over the conference tournament weekend.