SEC Coaches Pick Gamecocks Second in League Race
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s basketball was predicted to finish second in the SEC by a vote of league head coaches, the organization announced today. The group also tapped Kamilla Cardoso for Preseason All-SEC First-Team honors and Te-Hina Paopao with a spot on the second team.
The Gamecocks return six members of their 2023 NCAA Final Four squad, including 2023 SEC Sixth Woman of the Year Cardoso and SEC All-Freshman selection and team assist leader Raven Johnson. Juniors Sania Feagin and Bree Hall as well as sophomores Chloe Kitts and Ashlyn Watkins round out the returning group. Staley added senior transfers Paopao and Sakima Walker, and the group of veterans have welcomed three freshmen who, along with early enrollee Kitts, comprised the No. 2 signing class in the nation – 13th-ranked Milaysia Fulwiley, 25th-ranked Tessa Johnson and 40th-ranked Sahnya Jah. Head coach Dawn Staley enters her 16th season at South Carolina, which have included two National Championships, five NCAA Final Fours, seven SEC regular-season titles, seven SEC Tournament championships and six 30-win seasons.
Cardoso emerged as a dominant force in the SEC and the nation last season, especially on the glass. The 6-foot-7 center finished third in the country in offensive rebounding percentage (.208) and seventh in total rebounding percentage (.232). Pulling in 8.5 rebounds per game, she was 21st in the NCAA in offensive rebounds (3.72) and came in 28th in blocks per game (1.94). That production came in addition to her 9.8 points per game while playing just 18.8 minutes per game. Cardoso exploded in the postseason, averaging nearly a double-double in the SEC Tournament (13.0 pp, 9.3 rpg) and capping her NCAA Tournament with a 14-point, 14-rebound effort in the Final Four. In addition to her SEC Sixth Woman of the Year recognition, she was an All-SEC Second-Team selection and an All-America Honorable Mention.
Paopao was a three-time All-Pac-12 selection at Oregon, including first-team recognition in 2021 and 2022. Averaging 12.5 points and 3.6 assists over her three seasons with the Ducks, she shot 38.0 percent from 3-point range with 1.9 made 3s per game in that time. She posted career bests in 3-point shooting in 2022-23, shooting 42.4 percent form beyond the arc and ranking second in the Pac-12 with 2.3 made 3s per game. Her assist total was also career high as she dished out 3.3 per game.
The Gamecocks will officially open the 2023-24 season in an historic way, playing #10/10 Notre Dame in Paris, France, on Nov. 6. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN with a 1 p.m. ET tipoff. South Carolina’s regular-season schedule includes 11 games against teams ranked in at least one of the two national polls, including five games in the season’s first five weeks.
For more information on 2023-24 women’s basketball season tickets, which start at $55, visit https://thegamecockclub.com/wbb/. To purchase season tickets, visit https://am.ticketmaster.com/gamecocks/virtual-venue/V0IyNA==. To purchase a Community Supporter ticket to donate to underrepresented communities in the Columbia area, visit https://fevo.me/wb24communitysupporter.
Continue to check GamecocksOnline.com and the team’s social media accounts (@GamecockWBB) for the most up-to-date information on South Carolina women’s basketball.
2023-24 SEC Coaches Preseason Poll
Order of Finish
2. South Carolina
4. Ole Miss
5. Mississippi State
6. Texas A&M
Preseason Player of the Year
Angel Reese, LSU
Preseason First Team All-SEC
Janiah Barker, Texas A&M
Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina
Jessika Carter, Mississippi State
Hayley Frank, Missouri
Rickea Jackson, Tennessee
Angel Reese, LSU
Madison Scott, Ole Miss
Hailey Van Lith, LSU
Preseason Second Team All-SEC
Erynn Barnum, Mississippi State
Aicha Coulibaly, Texas A&M
Makayla Daniels, Arkansas
Flau’jae Johnson, LSU
JerKaila Jordan, Mississippi State
Tamari Key, Tennessee
Aneesah Morrow, LSU
Te-Hina Paopao, South Carolina
Jewel Speark, Tennessee