South Carolina Basketball: Cooke Named Finalist for Dawn Staley Award

South Carolina Basketball

South Carolina basketball guard Zia Cooke is a finalist for the Dawn Staley Award. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Now known for being the best coach in women’s college basketball, Dawn Staley is also one of the best players of all-time, as well. The South Carolina basketball coach was a three-time Olympic gold medalist as a player, made three Final Fours as a collegiate player, and was an all-league player in both the ABL and the WNBA as a professional.

The 2022-2023 SEC Coach of the Year has been honored by an award bearing her name each year since 2013. The Dawn Staley Award has been given out to the guard who best exemplifies Staley’s game, one that encompasses scoring, ball handling, passing, and a competitive drive to win.

Former South Carolina guards Destanni Henderson, Tyasha Harris, and Tiffany Mitchell have been nominated for the award honoring their coach. Mitchell and Harris won the awards in 2015 and 2020, respectively. The Phoenix Club of Philadelphia announced that a Gamecock was nominated as a finalist for this year’s award. South Carolina basketball standout Zia Cooke joins Iowa Hawkeye Caitlin Clark, Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles, and Haley Jones of Stanford.

Cooke was recently selected as a first-team member of the All-SEC team. This season, she is averaging career highs in scoring efficiency (both from the floor and the free throw line) and assists while committing the fewest turnovers per game of her career. Cooke saved one of her best performances for the SEC Tournament final victory against Tennessee when she scored 24 points and pulled down 5 rebounds while only giving the ball away once.

Clark, Miles, and Jones are all finalists for National Player of the Year awards such as the Women’s John R. Wooden Award, the WBCA Wade Trophy, and the James Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year. The 2022-2023 winner of the Dawn Staley Award will be announced during the Final Four, an event in which Cooke and her Gamecocks have every intention of participating.