Three Gamecocks on Wooden Award Preseason Top 50
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Reigning National Champion South Carolina seniors Brea Beal, Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke are among the 50 players named to the Women’s Preseason Top 50 Watch List for the John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s, the organization announced today. Boston is looking to repeat as the winner of the award, and the selection of Cooke and Beal put South Carolina atop the list of entries on the list, tied with two other teams.
Beal has been a staple in the Gamecocks’ starting lineup since the minute she stepped on campus because of her consistent effort and commitment to doing what is best for the team. A powerful guard with the ability to defend anywhere on the floor, she regularly takes on the opponent’s toughest scorer and thrives at limiting her efficiency. In 2021-22, her primary guard reached her scoring average just six times while 10 were held to less than half their average scoring, including Maryland’s Chloe Bibby (2 pts at SC), Kentucky’s Rhyne Howard (9 pts at SC) and UConn’s Christyn Williams (2 pts in national championship game). In six games of the 2022 NCAA Tournament, Beal held her primary guard to just 47.9 percent of their season scoring average while increasing her own offense by 35.4 percent (4.8 ppg to 6.5 ppg).
The reigning National Player of the Year, Boston is back for another season after a record-setting junior campaign, and she picked up where she left off with back-to-back double-doubles to open the 2022-23 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. She has started this season as the team’s top scorer with 17.5 points per game, including 42.9 percent shooting from 3-point range. The dynamic scorer has reached double-figure points 76 times in her 102 career games, including 14 games of at least 20 points. In 2021-22, she was third on the team in points and assists. In 14 games against ranked opponents last season, she lifted her scoring average to 13.1 points per game, shooting 39.0 percent from the field in those outings.
The watch list will be narrowed with to midseason list, a late season list and the national ballot as the season winds down. The national ballot will consist of 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they meet or exceed the qualifications of the Wooden Award. Nearly 1,000 voters will rank in order 10 of those 15 players when voting opens prior to the NCAA Tournament and will allow voters to take into consideration performance during early round games The Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the NCAA Elite Eight round, and the winner of the 2023 John R. Wooden Award will be presented in Los Angeles in April.
No. 1/1 South Carolina has opened the 2022-23 season with a pair of double-digit victories and will continue a four-game road swing on Thu., Nov. 17, at Clemson with a 6 p.m. tipoff on ACC Network.
Fans interested in buying season tickets 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.
2023 John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50
Brea Beal, Sr., G, South Carolina
Grace Berger, Grad, G, Indiana
Aijha Blackwell, Sr., G/F, Baylor
Aliyah Boston, Sr., F, South Carolina
Sam Breen, Gr., F, UMass
Cameron Brink, Jr., F, Stanford
Leigha Brown, 5th-Yr., G, Michigan
Jakia Brown-Turner, Sr., W, NC State
Caitlin Clark, Jr., G, Iowa
Zia Cooke, Sr., G., South Carolina
Monika Czinano, 5th-Yr.,, F/C, Iowa
Lexi Donarski, Jr. G, Iowa State
Dyaisha Fair, Sr., G, Syracuse
Azzi Fudd, So., G, UConn
Shaylee Gonzales, Sr., G, Texas
Rori Harmon, So., G, Texas
Mackenzie Holmes, Sr., F, Indiana
Jordan Horston, Sr., G, Tennessee
Rickea Jackson, Sr., F, Tennessee
Ashley Joens, Sr., G/F, Iowa State
Diamond Johnson, Jr., G, NC State
Haley Jones, Sr., G, Stanford
Morgan Jones, Gr., G, Louisville
Deja Kelly, Jr., G, North Carolina
Tamari Key, Sr., C, Tennessee
Elizabeth Kitley, Sr., C, Virginia Tech
Charlisse Leger-Walker, Jr., G, Washington State
Taylor Mikesell, Sr., G, Ohio State
Olivia Miles, So., G, Notre Dame
Diamond Miller, Sr., G, Maryland
Tishara Morehouse, Sr., G, Fla. Gulf Coast
Alexis Morris, 5th-Yr., G, LSU
Aneesah Morrow, So., F, DePaul
Charisma Osborne, Sr., G, UCLA
Ashley Owusu, Sr., G, Virginia Tech
Te-Hina Paopao, Jr., G, Oregon
Lauren Park-Lane, Sr., G, Seton Hall
Angel Reese, So., F, LSU
Cate Reese, 5th-Yr., F, Arizona
Taylor Robertson, 5th-Yr., G, Oklahoma
Emma Ronsiek, Jr., F, Creighton
Myah Selland, R-Sr., F, South Dakota State
Jacy Sheldon, Sr., G, Ohio State
Maddy Siegrist, Sr., F, Villanova
Taylor Soule, Sr., F, Virginia Tech
Jewel Spear, Jr., G, Wake Forest
Hailey Van Lith, Jr., G, Louisville
Destinee Wells, Jr., G, Belmont
Maddy Westbeld, Jr., F, Notre Dame
Madi Williams, 5th-Yr., F, Oklahoma