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March 18, 2016


COLUMBIA, S.C. ââ’¬” South Carolina senior guard Tiffany Mitchell and sophomore forward A’ja Wilson are two of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Friday. The Gamecocks make up half of the list, which includes UConn’s Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart.

With her leadership and contributions in key moments, Mitchell has propelled South Carolina to its second-straight season with at least 30 wins. The Charlotte, N.C., native, one of three Gamecocks to earn AP All-SEC First-Team honors, boasts six 20-point games, many of which have come against the league’s top teams. She scored all seven of South Carolina’s points to help the Gamecocks extend their fourth-quarter lead to six against No. 10/10 Mississippi State on Jan. 24, and 18 of her 20 points against Texas A&M (Jan. 31), another top-10 opponent, came in the second half. Mitchell was tabbed the SEC Tournament MVP after leading South Carolina to its second-consecutive conference tournament championship with a team-high 15.7 points per game and 10 assists.

Wilson emerged into a consistent threat on both sides of the court in her second year at South Carolina. The SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year leads the Gamecocks with 16.4 points per game, and her 3.1 blocks per contest rank first in the conference and 12th among NCAA Division I players. Wilson is seventh in the SEC in scoring, and the forward has recorded a team-high seven 20-point games this season. She scored in double figures twice during the SEC Tournament, including a 19-point effort in the championship game against No. 16/16 Mississippi State earlier this month.

The Naismith Trophy winner will be announced on Mon., Apr. 4, during the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis. No. 3/2 South Carolina, the top seed in the Sioux Falls Region, opens NCAA Tournament play tonight against 16th-seeded Jacksonville at Colonial Life Arena. The contest tips off at approximately 7:30 p.m., and it can be seen on ESPN2.