South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley has to be satisfied with her team’s 2-0 start to the season. The Gamecocks have been the most impressive team in the country (by a wide margin) and have been moved up to the #1 spot in the most recent AP poll.
It hasn’t just been the Associated Press voters who have taken notice of how good Carolina has been, however.
On Tuesday, it was announced that South Carolina basketball placed two players on the watch list for the John Wooden Award. The Wooden Award is given each season to the top player in college basketball, and Gamecock upperclassmen Kamilla Cardoso and Te-Hina Paopao made the 50-player watch list.
The Gamecocks are one of just thirteen programs in the country to have multiple players on the watch list.
Cardoso was the SEC’s Sixth Woman of the Year last season but is starting for the Gamecocks this year. She was also just named the SEC’s Player of the Week and the USBWA national player of the week for averaging 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks last week against top-15 teams Notre Dame and Maryland. She did all of this in under 25 minutes per game and is shooting almost 70% from the field.
Paopao, an All-Pac12 performer last season at Oregon, is playing as one of two point guards in the South Carolina starting lineup. She is among the best shooters in the country and will be a steadying force on both sides of the floor who will rack up her fair share of assists on offense and steals on defense.
Cardoso and Paopao are also on the preseason list for the Lisa Leslie Award and Nancy Lieberman Award, respectively. The two awards are given to the country’s top center and point guard each season. Cardoso is also on the watch list for the Wade Trophy, another national player of the year award.