Dawn Staley’s South Carolina basketball team is the best in the country so far in the 2023-2024 season. After starting the year 6th in the AP poll, USC is up to the top spot after dominating every team that has stepped on the court with them.
The Gamecocks are 5-0 with four blowout victories. They beat top-10 Notre Dame 100-71, they crushed top-15 Maryland 114-76, they eviscerated the rival Clemson Tigers 109-40, they smothered South Dakota State 78-38, and they set records smacking Mississippi Valley State 101-19.
The next test is a top-25 showdown with the North Carolina Tar Heels on Thursday in Chapel Hill. The border battle could be coming with good news.
On Wednesday, when Gamecock head coach Dawn Staley spoke to the media, she gave an update on injured guard Tessa Johnson. According to the South Carolina basketball headwoman, the former 5-star prospect practiced on Wednesday and is expected to give it a go on Thursday.
Johnson, who has missed the last three games with an ankle/lower leg injury, is shooting 40% from 3 and has established herself as an important contributor to the South Carolina basketball team on both ends of the floor.
Johnson is one of four true guards on the Carolina roster, and like the other three, she can be a bit of a stat sheet stuffer. In her second collegiate game, the Minnesota native put up an impressive 12-point, 7-rebound, 4-assist, 3-steal performance against a top-15 Maryland squad.
If she can go on Thursday, she will help bolster a guard rotation that also includes all-SEC hopefuls Raven Johnson and Te-Hina Paopao and SEC Freshman of the Year candidate MiLaysia Fulwiley. Without Johnson, the Gamecocks also had one game without Paopao, leaving the team with no subs in the backcourt.
Now, with Paopao back and Johnson expected back, the Gamecocks would be back at full strength, much to the chagrin of the teams on their schedule.