March 15, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina was well represented in the Associated Press’s All-SEC awards, which were released on Tuesday. Senior guard Tiffany Mitchell, junior center Alaina Coates and sophomore forward A’ja Wilson earned All-SEC First-Team accolades, while Wilson was also named the league’s Player of the Year. Dawn Staley, who led South Carolina to an undefeated mark in league play, was tabbed the SEC Coach of the Year.
The Gamecocks, who open the 2016 NCAA Tournament against 16th-seeded Jacksonville on Friday, made up half of the All-SEC First-Team. Wilson was a unanimous selection after leading the conference in blocks (3.1) and ranking second in field goal percentage (.544). Her 8.7 rebounds per contest were good for the fourth-best mark among conference players, and she scored double figures in 26 of her 30 games played this season to rank fifth in the league with 16.4 points per game.
Mitchell, the 2016 SEC Tournament MVP, ranked in the league’s top 10 in four categories in conference action. She boasted the fifth-highest scoring average (15.6) and was second in free throw percentage (.833), sixth in 3-pointers made per game (1.7) and eighth in steals per contest (1.9). The Charlotte, N.C., native led the Gamecocks in scoring 12 times and averaged 15.7 points per game in South Carolina’s run to its second-straight SEC Tournament title.
Coates made her presence felt down low during her junior campaign with a league-high 17 double-doubles. She averaged a double-double against conference foes, and her 10.1 rebounds per game rank first in the league and 22nd in the nation. Coates notched three 20-point games during the regular season, including an SEC career-high 27-point effort in South Carolina’s win over No. 18/18 Kentucky on Feb. 4.
Staley helped the Gamecocks achieve just the second 16-0 mark in league play in SEC history. South Carolina tallied 13 victories over ranked opponents and totaled at least 30 wins for the second-straight season. The Gamecocks have won the SEC regular-season title in each of the last three years under Staley.
AP SEC Honors
Player of the Year – A’ja Wilson, South Carolina
Coach of the Year – Dawn Staley, South Carolina
Freshman of the Year – Sophie Cunningham, Missouri
Jessica Jackson, Arkansas
Shacobia Barbee, Georgia
Ronni Williams, Florida
Tra’Cee Tanner, Auburn
Bashaara Graves, Tennessee
Evelyn Akhator, Kentucky
Diamond DeShields, Tennessee