#3 South Carolina Women's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks
Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 SEC
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South Carolina rose to the top of the mountain in women’s college basketball last season as the Gamecocks won their first national championship in program history. Head Coach Dawn Staley and her staff have been building things up year by year thanks to great recruiting and player development. This showed in the NCAA Tournament as South Carolina was once again booted out West and had to go through Florida State, Stanford, and Mississippi State to win it all. There will be some reloading to do at the start of the season, but there is too much of a culture of excellence for the Gamecocks to not be a 30 plus win team.
2016-17 Record: 33-4, 14-2
2016-17 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Dawn Staley
Coach Record: 221-76 at South Carolina, 393-160 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Allisha Gray, Guard, 13.2 points per game
Kaela Davis, Guard, 12.7 points per game
Alaina Coates, Center, 12.9 points per game
Tiffany Davis, Guard, 1.1 points per game
Araion Bradshaw, Freshman, 0.9 points per game
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
A’ja Wilson, Senior, Forward, 17.9 points per game
Tyasha Harris, Sophomore, Guard, 5.6 points per game
Bianca Cuevas-Moore, Senior, Guard, 8.3 points per game
M. Herbert Harrigan, Sophomore, Forward, 4.9 points per game
Doniyah Cliney, Junior, Guard, 2.9 points per game
Victoria Patrick, Sophomore, Guard, 1.3 points per game
Key New Players
Lele Grissett, Freshman, Guard/Forward
Bianca Jackson, Freshman, Guard
Alexis Jennings, Junior, Forward
Lindsey Spann, Senior, Guard
LaDazhia Williams, Freshman, Forward
Te’a Cooper, Sophomore, Guard, Transfer from Tennessee, not eligible
A’ja Wilson is back for her senior season and that will help South Carolina’s cause as far as defending their national championship is concerned. Wilson can do it all at both ends of the court as she averaged 17.9 points game along with 7.8 rebounds. Shot blocking is another strength of Wilson’s as she blocked 90 shots last season. Tyasha Harris is going to be counted to step forward at the offensive end of the court. She had a solid freshman season, averaging 5.6 points per game and dished out 117 assists. Lele Grissett is a five-star incoming recruit that will bring great athleticism and versatility at either guard or forward, which will allow Coach Staley to mix and match a bit. Bianca Jackson and LaDazhia Williams are also going to be in the mix to crack the starting lineup as both are elite level prospects. Bianca Cuevas-Moore is another key experienced player in the backcourt that can provide some instant offense when needed. A road trip to Maryland for the second game of the season will be a great test for the young players on the team as the Terrapins are tough to beat in College Park. Connecticut visits Columbia to kick off the month of February in what should be another hard-fought battle between two of the nation’s best. It is going to be an interesting season for the Gamecocks as they will get everyone’s best shot. But in the end, they will be in the Final Four conversation once again come March.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 76.3 (20th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 56.9 (24, 1)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.5 (6, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 35.6 (19, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.9 (235, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.3 (96, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.7 (109, 7)
Rebound Margin: 6.3 (34, 3)
Assists Per Game: 14.8 (79, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.7(20, 2)
Madness 2018 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#1 A'ja Wilson
Madness 2017 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#18 Elisia Grissett
#39 Bianca Jackson
#103 Haley Troup