South Carolina Basketball: Gamecocks sit in rightful place at top of preseason poll

South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley and her Gamecock squad are #1 in early offseason rankings.
South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley
South Carolina basketball coach Dawn Staley / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina basketball fans couldn't believe what they were seeing at the end of April when women's college basketball fans (and even some in the media) were opining that the Southern Cal Trojans should be viewed as the top team in the country after an impressive haul in the transfer portal.

Thankfully, it appears the voices who were championing "the other USC" were just a loud minority or simply caught in the moment of the transfer portal hype. The updated offseason poll from a major outlet didn't fall into the click-bait trap of pushing the Trojans to the top spot.

Instead, when ESPN's Charlie Creme released the worldwide leader's updated "way-too-early" rankings, South Carolina basketball rightfully sat atop the poll. Southern Cal, the recent media darlings, jumped up from #5 to #2.

Sanity and proper championship respect won out in ESPN's rankings. The Gamecocks have not lost a regular season game since 2021 (yes, you read that correctly), and they returned all but one rotation player from last year's roster.

The loss of Kamilla Cardoso is a big one (literally), but the Gamecocks have a top-3 recruiting class coming to Columbia, including versatile forward Joyce Edwards who was named the national high school player of the year by multiple award committees.

With freshmen-turned-sophomores MiLaysia Fulwiley and Tessa Johnson looking like emerging stars, Dawn Staley's team could be even better next season than they were for their undefeated run during the 2023-2024 national championship campaign.

Sure, Southern Cal is going to be a really good team next year, and if any team has a realistic chance to knock off the Gamecocks, it is probably the Trojans. But there is no reason to think the queens of college basketball will vacate their throne until it happens. South Carolina basketball is #1, as they should be, and they belong in that spot until another team can remove them.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: Future Gamecock makes yet another All-American team. South Carolina Basketball: Future Gamecock makes yet another All-American team. dark