South Carolina Basketball: National champion Gamecocks aren't getting enough respect

South Carolina basketball just went undefeated, won the national title, and retains most of their roster. Still, they are not getting the respect they deserve.
South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley
South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley just led her Gamecocks to their third national championship with an undefeated 38-0 record. Only seven of their victories were by fewer than 10 points, and they won by an average of 29 points per game against a top-20 overall strength of schedule.

Making matters worse for the rest of the country, only Kamilla Cardoso (selected 3rd overall in the WNBA Draft by the Chicago Sky) is leaving from the rotation, and three 5-star freshmen are joining the roster.

As dominant as the Gamecocks were in the 2023-2024 season and as good as they are projected to be next year, Dawn Staley's team is not getting the respect they deserve in the national media right now.

With the transfer portal dominating the national news cycle over the last month or so, attention has been on other programs as the Gamecocks have not taken any transfers. Programs like the Southern Cal Trojans, Kentucky Wildcats, UConn Huskies, Maryland Terrapins, and Texas Longhorns are among the teams who have gotten a lot of attention and, subsequently, a lot of hype about the 2024-2025 season.

Southern Cal is the team that has become the "offseason darling" of the national media, though, as fans from across the country and even national sports writers have referred to the Trojans as a team "with national championship expectations," a group that "can knock off the Gamecocks," and the "new preseason #1 team."

Frankly, this talk is ridiculous.

Southern Cal is really, really good. They added two of the top-20 transfer portal players this offseason as versatile forward Kiki Iriafen (who may or may not have flirted with South Carolina basketball a bit) and guard Talia Von Oelhoffen joined a program that already has the most dynamic offensive player left in women's college basketball in JuJu Watkins. They also brought in a top-3 high school recruiting class.

But the Gamecocks are better.

Carolina also brought in a top-3 freshman class, including National Player of the Year Joyce Edwards. MiLaysia Fulwiley is projected as one of the country's best players next year, All-American sharpshooter Te-Hina Paopao spurned the WNBA for another year in Columbia, and players like Ashlyn Watkins, Chloe Kitts, Raven Johnson, Bree Hall, Tessa Johnson, and Sania Feagin all will be another offseason better.

Going back-to-back is extremely difficult, so another South Carolina title is far from a guarantee. In fact, Southern Cal is capable of taking the trophy home in the first week of April next year. However, this Gamecock team, coming off of their undefeated title run and returning almost their entire roster, is the championship favorite unless they prove themselves not to be.

Dawn Staley and the South Carolina basketball program are the standard in women's college basketball, and they should be respected as such.

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