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March 1, 2016


COLUMBIA, S.C. ââ’¬” After posting just the second 16-0 SEC record in league history en route to its third-straight regular-season title, South Carolina women’s basketball dominated the SEC awards as voted by the league coaches. While head coach Dawn Staley collected Coach of the Year honors for the third-straight season, sophomore A’ja Wilson was tabbed both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, becoming just the second woman to pick up both in the 13 seasons the defensive award has been given. Senior Tiffany Mitchell and junior Alaina Coates joined Wilson on the All-SEC First Team.

Staley becomes the first coach in league history to be named Coach of the Year by her peers in three consecutive seasons. Four others have earned the award at least three times, led by Pat Summitt’s eight selections, but never consecutively. In leading South Carolina to a 28-1 record, Staley guided the Gamecocks to the SEC’s second-ever 16-0 regular-season record. Her team clinched the outright regular-season championship with three games to play and won the league by five games, marking the largest margin since Tennessee’s 2011 team outpaced Kentucky by the same margin of 16-0 to 11-5. Playing eight ranked opponents in their first 12 SEC contests this season, the Gamecocks finished the season ranked first in the conference in eight categories in league play, including scoring and scoring defense, and defeated their conference rivals by an average of 16.6 points.

Just the third sophomore be named SEC Player of the Year, Wilson makes South Carolina the first program to boast three straight winners of that award. She is the Gamecocks’ second Defensive Player of the Year honor, joining Ieasia Walker who claimed the title in 2013. Wilson and LSU’s Sylvia Fowles (2008) are the only players in league history to capture both awards in the same season. Leading the league in blocked shots (3.1 bpg), Wilson also ranks among the SEC’s top 10 in points (4th, 16.6), rebounds (4th, 8.7) field goal percentage (2nd, .547) and free throw percentage (10th, .712). Her blocked shots are 12th-best in the nation, and her field goal percentage ranks 34th in NCAA Division I. She broke the Gamecocks’ single-season blocked shots record in the regular-season’s penultimate game, currently sitting at 85. Her 11 double-doubles include five in SEC play and rank 39th in the country. Wilson has scored in double figures in 24 of the Gamecocks’ 29 games, including seven 20-point outings.

Mitchell earned All-SEC First-Team honors for the third-straight season, becoming just the second Gamecock to do so (Shannon Johnson, 1994-96) and the SEC’s first since Auburn’s DeWanna Bonner was on the first team 2007-09. Mitchell has steadily built her stats through SEC play, shaking off a slow start due to offseason surgery. In league play, she ranks among the league’s top 10 in scoring (5th, 15.6 ppg), free throw percentage (2nd, .833), steals per game (8th, 1.9 spg) and made 3-pointers per game (6th, 1.7), while coming in 11th in assists at 2.8 per game. The two-time All-American turned in the game-saving performances that have been her trademark several times this season, especially thriving on the road at Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Texas A&M and Tennessee to keep the Gamecocks undefeated in league play. Her 1,796 career points are fifth in program history and are the first entry in the top five since Jocelyn Penn in 2003.

Coates makes her first appearance on the All-SEC First Team after capturing second-team recognition each of the last two seasons, making it the second-straight season South Carolina has had three first-team choices. She is 14th in the nation with 15 double-doubles this season, including 10 in the Gamecocks’ 16 SEC games, and is the only league player to average a double-double, which she does both overall and in conference play. Coates’ SEC-best 10.1 rebounds per game this season rank 22nd in the nation. She shoots 65.5 percent from the field overall and nets 66.7 percent of her attempts in league play. She recorded the program’s first triple-double to include blocked shots, swatting away a school-record 10 against Winthrop, and the first of any kind since 2006.

As the No. 1 seed in this week’s SEC Tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., South Carolina (28-1, 16-0 SEC) will take on the winner of the game between the eight and nine seeds, Missouri and Auburn, on Fri., March 4, at noon in the quarterfinal round. The game will air on SEC Network.

2016 SEC Awards (Coaches Vote)

Coach of the Year: Dawn Staley, South Carolina
Player of the Year: A’ja Wilson, South Carolina
Freshman of the Year:
Sophie Cunningham, Missouri
Defensive Player of the Year: A’ja Wilson, South Carolina
6th Player of the Year:
Chelsea Jennings, Texas A&M
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Marjorie Butler, Georgia

2016 All-SEC First Team
Shacobia Barbee, Georgia
Alaina Coates, South Carolina
Makayla Epps, Kentucky
Jessica Jackson, Arkansas
Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina
Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State
Courtney Walker, Texas A&M
A’ja Wilson, South Carolina

2016 All-SEC Second Team
Evelyn Akhator, Kentucky
Sophie Cunningham, Missouri
Jordan Frericks, Missouri
Tiaria Griffin, Georgia
Jordan Jones, Texas A&M
Janee Thompson, Kentucky
Courtney Williams, Texas A&M
Ronni Williams, Florida

2016 SEC All-Defensive Team
Shacobia Barbee, Georgia
Dominique Dillingham, Mississippi State
Jordan Jones, Texas A&M
Simone Westbrook, Florida
A’ja Wilson, South Carolina