South Carolina Basketball: Dawn Staley makes final list for yet another award

South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley was named a semifinalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award.

South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley
South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK
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Over the past decade, South Carolina basketball's Dawn Staley has become the face of women's college basketball coaches. In a world that was dominated by Pat Summitt and then dominated by Geno Auriemma, Staley is now the top coach in the sport (shoutout to Stanford's Tara VanDerveer for being in the discussion during all three eras).

Staley's Gamecocks were not expected by many to be legitimate national championship contenders heading into the 2023-2024 season. USC was the best team in college basketball last year but couldn't bring home the national championship, losing their only game of the season to Caitlin Clark and Iowa in the Final Four. From that team, Carolina lost 5 players to the WNBA Draft and two other contributors. The phrase "rebuilding year" was thrown around a lot for the Gamecocks this offseason.

To the surprise of many, even to Dawn Staley, herself, South Carolina basketball is the cream of the college basketball crop once again. At 32-0, the Gamecocks secured their second undefeated regular season in a row (the first time that's happened in SEC history) and is the overwhelming favorite to become just the 10th team to go undefeated all the way through the season (UConn 6x, Texas, Tennessee, and Baylor).

On Thursday, it was revealed that Coach Staley was chosen as one of ten semifinalists for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award. She is joined by fellow semifinalists Jennie Baranczyk (Oklahoma Sooners), Lisa Bluder (Iowa Hawkeyes), Kenny Brooks (Virginia Tech Hokies), Lisa Fortier (Gonzaga Bulldogs), Lindsay Gottlieb (Southern Cal Trojans) Felisha Legette-Jack (Syracuse Orange), Kevin McGuff (Ohio State Buckeyes),
Vic Schaefer (Texas Longhorns), and Tara VanDerveer (Stanford Cardinal).

Staley has won three of the past four Naismith National Coach of the Year Awards and is the heavy favorite to win it again. The fact that she has her team in the position it is in despite all of the personnel changes from last year is a testament to her brilliance as a coach and as a recruiter.

Coach Staley and the Gamecocks will be the top seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, but they will find out who they will play on Selection Sunday, coming up in just a few days.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: Future Gamecock named finalist for Gatorade National Player of the Year. South Carolina Basketball: Future Gamecock named finalist for Gatorade National Player of the Year. dark