SEC Coaches Pick Gamecocks for 2023 Women's Basketball Title
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Like the media last week, SEC head coaches predicted reigning National Champion and SEC Regular-Season Champion South Carolina will claim the league title in 2023, the league office announced today. The group named Aliyah Boston the Preseason Player of the Year, and Zia Cooke joined her on the Preseason All-SEC First Team. Fifth-year senior Victaria Saxton was named to the Preseason All-SEC Second Team.
South Carolina has won six SEC regular-season championships since claiming its first in 2013-14. The Gamecocks have won two of the last three SEC regular-season titles and have not finished lower than second since the 2012-13 campaign.
Head coach Dawn Staley returns 10 letterwinners from last year’s championship squad, including four of the five starters. All four are seniors, including Saxton, who elected to return for her extra season of eligibility. Boston, Cooke and defensive star Brea Beal are the other three as the vaunted 2019 signing class, which also includes Laeticia Amihere and Olivia Thompson to rank No. 1 in the country, enters its senior season. The group has lost just three SEC games combined in its first three years in the Garnet and Black and has won two of the program’s six SEC regular-season championships.
The reigning National Player of the Year, Boston is back for another season after a record-setting junior campaign. The NCAA Final Four MOP led the NCAA with a program-record 30 double-doubles last season, including an SEC-record 27 consecutive, as she stamped her authority on the 2021-22 campaign nationally. Her dominance extended beyond basketball as she was named SEC Roy F. Kramer Female Athlete of the Year and became the University’s first Honda Cup winner and CoSIDA Academic All-America Team Member of the Year. In each of her first three seasons, she was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, won the Lisa Leslie Award and picked up All-America recognition.
Cooke is a two-time All-America and All-SEC selection who was part of the NCAA Women’s Final Four All-Tournament Team in each of her last two seasons. The dynamic scorer has reached double-figure points 74 times in her 100 career games, including 14 games of at least 20 points. In 2021-22, she was third on the team in points and assists.
Saxton’s return solidified a frontcourt that again will be among the most formidable in the country. Her athleticism and rebounding instincts helped the Gamecocks lead the nation in rebounding margin (+17.7) and rank third in rebounding average (47.9). Saxton was second on the team and among the SEC’s top 20 with a career-best 5.8 rebounds per game in 2021-22. That number jumped to 9.0 per NCAA Tournament game, including three games of double-digit boards. Her 3.2 offensive rebounds per game were fourth in the SEC, and 31 of her 54 NCAA Tournament rebounds came on the offensive end. She is ninth in the Gamecock record books in career offensive rebounds (301). With 171 career blocked shots she is sixth in program history in that category.
South Carolina will host an exhibition game against Benedict on Mon., Oct. 31, prior to officially opening the 2022-23 season on Mon., Nov. 7, against ETSU at Colonial Life Arena.
Fans interested in buying season tickets for the Gamecocks’ 2022-23 season can find more information at https://thegamecockclub.com/wbb/ or by calling the South Carolina Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-4SC-FANS (472-3267). Single-game upper level general admission tickets are now for sale to the general public at: https://www.ticketmaster.com/university-of-south-carolina-gamecocks-womens-tickets/artist/849555. Prices vary based on the game.
Stay tuned to GamecocksOnline.com and the team’s social media accounts (@GamecockWBB) for more information on the 2022-23 season ahead.
2022-23 SEC Preseason Media Poll
1. South Carolina
T5. Mississippi State
8. Ole Miss
11. Texas A&M
Preseason Player of the Year
Aliyah Boston, South Carolina
Preseason All-SEC First Team
Aliyah Boston, South Carolina
Zia Cooke, South Carolina
Brittany Davis, Alabama
Anastasia Hayes, Mississippi State
Jordan Horston, Tennessee
Alexis Morris, LSU
Tamari Key, Tennessee
Angel Reese, LSU
Preseason All-SEC Second Team
Diamond Battles, Georgia
Jessika Carter, Mississippi State
Aicha Coulibaly, Auburn
Makayla Daniels, Arkansas
Hayley Frank, Missouri
Rickea Jackson, Tennessee
Victaria Saxton, South Carolina
Madison Scott, Ole Miss