South Carolina Basketball: Gamecock guard is finalist for national award

South Carolina basketball guard Te-Hina Paopao is one of five finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award.

South Carolina basketball guard Te-Hina Paopao with freshman Tessa Johnson
South Carolina basketball guard Te-Hina Paopao with freshman Tessa Johnson / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
facebooktwitterreddit

South Carolina basketball has a roster loaded with good players, but there is a good argument to make that Te-Hina Paopao might be the most important of them all.

When Paopao transferred to Dawn Staley's team after three years as an Oregon Duck, Gamecock fans knew she would make a difference with her shooting ability and her veteran savvy. However, no one could have anticipated just how big the difference would be.

Thanks to her gravity as a shooter, Paopao has created spacing for a South Carolina offense that had none last year, and though she is the team's top threat from outside and on every opposing team's radar, she leads the nation in 3-point percentage, canning 49% of her shots from the perimeter.

She is also a second point guard for the offense as Coach Dawn Staley prefers to play with two ballhandlers on the court at a time if at all possible. Her leadership and smart decision-making have allowed her to average just under 4 assists per game,

Because of her tremendous impact on the best team in the country, Te-Hina Paopao has been selected as one of five finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award. The Nancy Lieberman Award is awarded to the nation's top point guard each season. She is joined on the list by Caitlin Clark (Iowa Hawkeyes), Hannah Hidalgo (Notre Dame Fighting Irish), Georgia Amoore (Virginia Tech Hokies), and Jacy Sheldon (Ohio State Buckeyes).

Te-Hina Paopao also is a finalist for the Dawn Staley Award (given to the guard that best shows Dawn Staley-like qualities of ballhandling, passing, defense, leadership, and scoring) and a semi-finalist for the Naismith Women's National Player of the Year Award. Teammates Raven Johnson and MiLaysia Fulwiley are also nominated for the Dawn Staley Award, and teammate Kamilla Cardoso is also a semi-finalist for the Naismith National Player of the Year Award.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: 5-star Gamecock signee injured. South Carolina Basketball: 5-star Gamecock signee injured. dark