South Carolina Basketball: Dawn Staley named to Naismith National Coach of the Year list

South Carolina basketball head coach Dawn Staley was named to the watch list for the Naismith National Coach of the Year award.

South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley
South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley has done it again.

After making it to another Final Four last year with a veteran team, many in the college basketball world thought that the Gamecocks would be in for a rebuild heading into the 2023-2024 season due ot the roster turnover. The outlook was bleak enough that Staley told the College GameDay crew this past weekend that she even considered an early retirement this offseason.

Instead, South Carolina basketball is 25-0 and the undisputed #1 team in the land. With a win on Thursday, they will yet another SEC regular season championship, their 8th in the past 11 seasons.

So, it comes as no surprise that Coach Dawn Staley is receiving recognition for her coaching job this season. On Wednesday, it was announced that Staley made the Naismith National Coach of the Year watchlist as 1 of 15 coaches in the country chosen for the list.

Considering the team's loss of 8 of their top 12 players from last year, it is remarkable to evaluate what Staley and the Gamecocks have accomplished. After losing all 5 starters (and multiple key reserves) from last year's team, South Carolina basketball still has its name all over the player award watch lists this season.

Te-Hina Paopao and Kamilla Cardoso are on the Naismith National Player of the Year list, Paopao is on the Nancy Lieberman watch list, Paopao is joined by Raven Johnson and MiLaysia Fulwiley on the Dawn Staley Award list, Cardoso is on the Lisa Leslie watch list, Cardoso made the Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year list, Bree Hall is on the Cheryl Miller Award watch list, and several players made their way onto watch lists for various SEC awards.

Cardoso and Johnson were major bench contributors last season. Paopao was Staley's top target out of the transfer portal. Fulwiley is a freshman recruited by Coach Staley. Bree Hall, though, is a great story of development as the coach never gave up on her talented player, even through struggles.

If South Carolina basketball wins its third national title this season, it will be Dawn Staley's finest coaching job.

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