Coach Dawn Staley is hoping to lead South Carolina to its second national title in this year's Women's NCAA Tournament. But before the Final Four games even begin in Minneapolis, she and star Aliyah Boston collected some well-earned hardware.
South Carolina swept all three women's Naismith Trophies on Wednesday with Staley winning Coach of the Year and Boston earning Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. The coach-star duo powered South Carolina, the AP's wire-to-wire No. 1 team, to a 33-2 record and a Final Four appearance this season.
Staley, who also won Naismith Coach of the Year in 2020, remains the only coach – male or female – to have won that award and Naismith Player of the Year. The 51-year-old Staley won Naismith Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992 while playing for Virginia.
𝐂𝐎𝐀𝐂𝐇 𝐎𝐅 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐘𝐄𝐀𝐑 🏆@GamecockWBB’s @dawnstaley has been named the 2022 @wernerladderco Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year!— The Naismith Trophy (@NaismithTrophy) March 30, 2022
Under Coach Staley, South Carolina has gone 33-2 this season and advanced to their fourth @WFinalFour in the past seven tournaments. pic.twitter.com/VvoyqCnANb
Boston, a three-time SEC Defensive Player of the Year and this year's SEC Player of the Year, took her game to another level this season to win her first Naismith Trophy. The junior forward averaged a team-high 16.8 points per game this season to go along with 428 rebounds and 87 blocks, which rank second and ninth nationally, respectively. Boston also leads the nation in double-doubles with 28, and her streak of 27 from Nov. 29, 2021 to March 25, 2022 marked an SEC record.
Staley and Boston brought South Carolina to its fourth Final Four in the last seven seasons with wins over Howard, Miami, North Carolina and Creighton. The Gamecocks will battle fellow No. 1 seed Louisville on Friday in Minneapolis for a spot in the national title game.