COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina women's basketball head coach Dawn Staley picked up her second national recognition in as many days when the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) named her its 2020 United States Marine Corps/WBCA NCAA Division I National Coach of the Year. It is Staley's first time winning the award from her colleagues around the country.
The WBCA will present Staley with the Pat Summitt Trophy, named for the late legendary Tennessee coach and award annually to the National Coach of the Year in each of the WBCA's six membership divisions.
"Dawn is a championship coach and a hall of fame player," said WBCA Executive Director Danielle M. Donehew. "She is a skilled and passionate teacher of the game who is devoted to her student-athletes. She has masterfully built both a powerful program and fanbase at South Carolina. She has served her peers as a member of the WBCA Board of Directors and NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Oversight Committee. Dawn was chosen by her peers for this award after leading her team to another exceptional season. She is very deserving of the WBCA's highest honor in the coaching profession."
Staley's team of six returning letterwinners and the nation's top recruiting class entered the season ranked in the top 10 of the AP and USA Today/WBCA Coaches' Polls and finished it at No. 1 in both. The Gamecocks' 10 weeks atop the AP Poll were the most of any team this season as the steady leadership of seniors Tyasha Harris and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan guided the otherwise youthful squad to a 32-1 record that included 26 consecutive wins to close the season, a perfect 16-0 record for the program's fifth SEC Regular-Season Championship and its fifth SEC Tournament title.
Staley challenged her team with the fifth-toughest schedule in the country, and the Gamecocks answered with a 13-1 record against nationally ranked opponents, including wins over three teams that finished the season in the top five. South Carolina went 8-0 against RPI top-25 teams and 8-1 against the next 25 RPI teams (26-50).
The SEC Coach of the Year led a team that embodied her competitive spirit and built its success on its commitment to defense and a team-first mentality. The Gamecock offense scored a school-record 82.0 points per game to rank sixth in the nation while no individual Gamecock averaged more than 13.1 points. South Carolina's bench added 26.6 points per game of that average as those six Gamecocks thrived in their roles. Defensively, South Carolina was fourth in the country in allowing opponents to shoot just 33.3 percent from the field, and their 30.1 defensive rebounds per game were 12th best in the country.
In 12 seasons, Staley's Gamecocks have won the 2017 National Championship and finished the season in the Final Four once, Elite Eight once and Sweet 16 four times. Her teams have won five SEC regular-season titles in the last seven seasons and five of the last six SEC Tournament crowns. Her SEC regular-season winning percent of .726 is second only to Tennessee's Pat Summitt in league history, and her 11.5 SEC victories per season are the most of any head coach all-time. Staley's 305 wins at South Carolina are the most by a Gamecock basketball coach - men's or women's. She is a four-time SEC Coach of the Year, including becoming the first in league history to win the title three straight seasons.