South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks go back-to-back on Naismith Awards

South Carolina basketball's Aliyah Boston and Dawn Staley. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina basketball's Aliyah Boston and Dawn Staley. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports /
South Carolina Basketball
South Carolina basketball’s Aliyah Boston and Dawn Staley won the Defensive Player of the Year and College Coach of the Year awards for the second time each. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports /

It was no secret that the South Carolina basketball program was going to win some national awards for their stellar season. With just two games standing between them and an undefeated season and back-to-back national championships, the Gamecocks are deserving of as many accolades as anyone could give them.

On Wednesday, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced their annual Naismith Awards. The awards are given based on a combination of basketball writer voting, coach polling, and online fan voting.

In extremely unsurprising fashion, Dawn Staley was selected as the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year. Coach Staley won the award last season and now has won it in three of the last four seasons. She is one of just five coaches to win the award three times, joining Pat Summitt, Muffet McGraw, Tara VanDerveer, and Geno Auriemma. Staley won the award despite not receiving the most fan votes (Teri Moren of Indiana won the fan vote).

Perhaps even more unsurprising were the results for the Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year. Aliyah Boston won the award again after bringing the trophy home last season, as well. She is also a four-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year award winner. She is the first multi-time winner of the award.

Unfortunately, the Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year Trophy will not be returning to Columbia. Last year’s recipient Aliyah Boston was beaten out by Iowa’s Caitlin Clark for the honor. Either player was deserving of the award as they each dominate in different ways.

Boston is, by advanced efficiency numbers, the most valuable player in college basketball. She is far and away the best defensive player in women’s college basketball, and she is among the most efficient offensively. Clark is the most outstanding player in the land and puts up gaudy counting stats that have rarely ever been seen. Both players have led their teams to the Final Four this season, and the Friday matchup between the two is one of the most anticipated women’s games of all-time.

The game will be played at 9:00 on ESPN and the ESPN App on Friday, March 31st. The winner will play for the national title against the winner of Virginia Tech and LSU.