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Nov. 5, 2014


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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Southeastern Conference coaches unanimously picked No. 2/2 South Carolina to repeat as conference champions in 2015, the league announced today. In their first appearance atop the preseason poll, the Gamecocks collected the maximum 169 points in preseason voting while landing three on the Preseason All-SEC First Team – Alaina Coates, Tiffany Mitchell and Aleighsa Welch. Mitchell earned Preseason Player of the Year honors as well.

After winning the program’s first SEC title, the Gamecocks return all five starters among the 10 letterwinners back from last season’s squad. That group accounted for 97.6 percent of the scoring, 96.0 percent of the rebounding and 98.4 percent of the assists that built a 29-5 record. South Carolina ended the season ranked No. 8 in the country, the second top-10 final rank in school history. The Gamecocks will open the 2014-15 season with the program’s highest preseason ranking, coming in at No. 2 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Preseason Polls.

SEC coaches also picked Mitchell to repeat as SEC Player of the Year with three other players receiving votes, including her teammate Welch. In earning the award last season, Mitchell became just the second sophomore in league history to hold the title. She went on to earn All-America honors from the Associated Press and the WBCA. She was also a finalist for the Wade Trophy and the Dawn Staley Award. Mitchell was named to the AP Preseason All-America team this week as well.

Welch was a WBCA All-Region selection last season and will look to complete her career by earning a spot on an All-SEC team for the third time. The versatile forward was a second-team choice as a sophomore and a first-team member as a junior. She ranks among the program’s top offensive rebounders with an eye on cracking the all-time top 10 in total career rebounds this season as well. Welch is one of 12 Gamecocks all-time to amass at least 1,000 career points and 700 career rebounds. Welch’s offense is equally efficient as she ranked 14th in the nation and second in the SEC with a .574 field goal percentage last season, netting at least 50.0 percent of her shots in all but seven games.

Coates rounds out the trio of Preseason All-SEC selections for the Gamecocks. Ranked as the No. 25 player in the nation by espnW earlier this week, she is the reigning SEC Freshman and Co-6th Player of the Year. She turned in one of the top freshman seasons in Gamecock history and was the only freshman to rank among the SEC’s top-25 scorers (23rd, 12.3 ppg) and top-20 rebounders (sixth, 8.4 rpg). Her 73 blocked shots are the second-most in a season in Gamecock history and ranked her third in the SEC and 41st in the nation in blocks per game (2.1).

Only three teams in league history have successfully defended their regular-season titles – Tennessee (multiple times), Georgia (1996, 1997) and LSU (2005, 2006). Six players have earned SEC Player of the Year honors multiple times in their careers, including South Carolina assistant coach Nikki McCray, who won the award in 1994 and 1995.

Season tickets are available for $50 each for a reserved seat or a Family Four-Pack of four general admission tickets for $100. Single-game tickets are also on sale now and are $7 for adults and $4 for youth (17 and under). Visit or call 1-800-4SC-FANS to purchase tickets.

SEC Preseason Media Poll

1. South Carolina (169)
2. Tennessee (155)
3. Texas A&M (144)
4. Kentucky (135)
5. Georgia (108)
6. Vanderbilt (107)
7. LSU (94)
8. Mississippi State (87)
9. Florida (86)
10. Auburn (53)
11. Missouri (48)
12. Arkansas (40)
13. Alabama (25)
14. Ole Miss (23)

Preseason Player of the Year

Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina

Preseason All-SEC First Team

Jessica Jackson, Arkansas
Jennifer O’Neill, Kentucky
Danielle Ballard, LSU
Martha Alwal, Mississippi State
Alaina Coates, South Carolina
Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina
Aleighsa Welch, South Carolina

Bashaara Graves, Tennessee
Isabelle Harrison, Tennessee
Courtney Walker, Texas A&M