March 24, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina junior Alaina Coates, senior Tiffany Mitchell and sophomore A’ja Wilson are all among the 15 finalists for The Wade Trophy, which is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding NCAA Division I women’s basketball player, the WBCA announced today. Mitchell is making her third appearance on the list, while Coates and Wilson are debuting as finalists. It is the first time multiple Gamecocks have been finalists for the award, and they join three other Gamecocks to be listed as a finalist for the award.
With 19 double-doubles on the season, which rank 12th in the nation, Coates is among the most dominant frontcourt players in the nation. She averages a double-double overall at 12.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and posted a school-record 10 double-doubles in SEC play. This season, Coates became the second Gamecock ever to amass 1,000 career points and 800 career rebounds prior to her senior season, joining Sheila Foster in that distinction. She is currently fourth in career rebounds with 914, including a school-record 632 on the defensive end.
A three-time All-American, Mitchell ranks among the most decorated and versatile players in South Carolina’s history. Becoming a regular on the national player of the year finalist lists, she is just the second Gamecock to earn First-Team All-SEC honors three times. Mitchell is among the program’s top five in 11 career categories, including three school records – 862 points in SEC play, 134 games started, 138 games played – fifth in scoring (1,877 points), third in free throws made (446), fourth in SEC assists (159) and fifth in career steals (233).
Wilson has been a steady force for the Gamecocks, shaking off any idea of a sophomore slump from the opening tipoff of the season. The forward led the team in scoring overall at 16.1 points per game and in SEC play, during which she averaged 16.3 points, en route to SEC Player of the Year honors. She was South Carolina’s leading scorer a team-high 15 times this season with 27 double-digit scoring games, including seven 20-point outings. Wilson has turned in 13 double-doubles this season and blocked a school-record 100 shots, helping her claim SEC Defensive Player of the Year recognition as well.
The Wade Trophy, now in its 39th year, is named after the late, legendary three-time national champion Delta State University coach, Lily Margaret Wade. This most esteemed award regarded as “The Heisman of Women’s Basketball,” debuted in 1978 as the first-ever women’s national player of the year award in college basketball. The candidates were selected by a vote of committee members consisting of leading basketball coaches, journalists and administrators. The committee will select the winner of The Wade Trophy from among these 15 finalists who are also named to the 10-member WBCA NCAA Division I Coaches’ All-America Team when it is chosen in April. The WBCA will officially announce The Wade Trophy winner during the WBCA Convention, held in conjunction with the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis.
No. 3/2 South Carolina, the top seed in the NCAA Tournament Sioux Falls Region, returns to the court in Sweet 16 action on Fri., March 25, at 7 p.m. (ET) against No. 14/15 Syracuse. The game will air on ESPN.
Wade Trophy Finalists
Rachel Banham, Sr., G, Minnesota
Alaina Coates, Jr., C, South Carolina
Nina Davis, Jr., F, Baylor
Myisha Hines-Allen, So., F, Louisville
Moriah Jefferson, Sr., G, UConn
Brittney Martin, Sr., G, Oklahoma State
Kelsey Mitchell, So., G, Ohio State
Tiffany Mitchell, Sr., G, South Carolina
Kelsey Plum, Jr., G, Washington
Breanna Stewart, Sr., F, UConn
Morgan Tuck, Sr., F, UConn
Brianna Turner, So., F, Notre Dame
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Jr., G, Maryland
Courtney Williams, Sr., G, South Florida
A’ja Wilson, So., F, South Carolina