South Carolina women's basketball picked up its first national honors today as ESPN.com announced its 2019-20 women's basketball award winners, including Dawn Staley as Coach of the Year and Aliyah Boston as its Freshman of the Year.
Staley entered the season with six returning letterwinners and the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. The preseason national rankings had the Gamecocks as a top-10 team, and Staley put three freshmen into the starting lineup - a lineup that has not change through 33 games. Her team gelled into the SEC Regular-Season and Tournament champion and this season's longest-running No. 1 team in the country. With a 32-1 record, the Gamecocks' success is built on its commitment to defense and team-first mentality - both hallmarks of Staley's leadership. South Carolina has more wins over ranked opponents than any other team in the country (13) while still ranking among the country's top 10 in scoring offense and top 20 in the scoring defense.
Boston powered her way onto the national stage in her college debut, becoming the first in NCAA Div. I women's basketball history to post a triple-double in her first career game. She did not let up after that, posting 13 double-doubles, including seven against ranked opponents. Averaging 12.5 points and 9.4 rebounds on the season, she routinely lifted her game in the big moments to average a double-double against SEC teams (13.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg) and against ranked opponents (13.0 ppg, 10.9 rpg). She is a force on both sides of the ball, ranking sixth in the nation in field goal percentage (.608) and 21st in blocks per game (2.61).
No. 1 South Carolina awaits its NCAA Tournament assignment, which will come on Monday, March 16, at 7 p.m. during the NCAA Selection Show.