Gamecocks women clean up in All-SEC awards

dcloninger@thestate.comMarch 4, 2014 

Coach Dawn Staley has led South Carolina to at least 25 wins for three consecutive seasons.

TRACY GLANTZ — tglantz@thestate.com

South Carolina had the best record in the SEC this season, claiming the regular-season championship with one game to spare.

It’s fitting that the Gamecocks would lead the way in the postseason as well.

USC claimed three SEC superlative awards while sharing another and had players dotted throughout the All-SEC lists released on Tuesday, Dawn Staley (SEC Coach of the Year), Tiffany Mitchell (SEC Player of the Year) and Alaina Coates (SEC Freshman of the Year, SEC Co-6th Woman of the Year) boasting individual honors. The league coaches also voted Mitchell and Aleighsa Welch to the all-SEC first team, Coates to the second and freshman teams and Mitchell and Elem Ibiam to the all-defensive team.

“I’m so happy for all of our players,” Staley said in a statement. “It really shows that when you play as a unit, you can accomplish both team and individual goals. It truly is great to be a Gamecock.”

Staley became the second USC coach to earn the Coach of the Year prize, while Mitchell became just the second sophomore in league history to earn Player of the Year honors. Coates became the first freshman in league history to earn multiple individual awards in one season. The Gamecocks were the only team with a representative on the first, second, freshman and defensive teams, and their three All-SEC picks also led the conference.

“As a player, I set my goals high, on the biggest accomplishment possible, and this was one of them this season,” Mitchell said in a statement after averaging 15.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game. “I’m excited that my teammates and coaches helped me along the path to this award, and to the season we are having. I couldn’t have earned this without any of them, especially Aleighsa. The only way this could be better is if there was a way for her to have shared this award with me.”

Coates was the only freshman in the SEC to rank in the Top 25 in scoring and the Top 20 in rebounding. She had eight double-doubles, five in SEC play, blocked a freshman-record 58 shots and won the SEC Freshman of the Week prize five times.

Staley claimed the program’s first SEC regular-season championship and had guided the Gamecocks to 26 wins, the third-best single-season total in school history. The No. 5 Gamecocks open the SEC tournament at noon on Friday.

Ieasia Walker (SEC Defensive Player of the Year) was the first Gamecock to ever win a Player of the Year award last season. With Tuesday’s haul, USC has five superlatives over two seasons.

The Associated Press will release two five-woman teams of all-SEC players, plus an honorable mention section, later. The AP will also select a player, coach and freshman of the year.

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COACHES’ ALL-SEC TEAM
First team

Tyrese Tanner, Auburn
Jaterra Bonds, Florida
Theresa Plaisance, LSU
Martha Alwal, Mississippi State
Bri Kulas, Missouri
Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina
Aleighsa Welch, South Carolina
Meighan Simmons, Tennessee
Isabelle Harrison, Tennessee
Courtney Walker, Texas A&M

Second team
Jessica Jackson, Arkansas
Shacobia Barbee, Georgia
Jennifer O’Neill, Kentucky
DeNesha Stallworth, Kentucky
Tia Faleru, Ole Miss
Valencia McFarland, Ole Miss
Alaina Coates, South Carolina
Courtney Williams, Texas A&M
Jasmine Lister, Vanderbilt
Christina Foggie, Vanderbilt

Defensive team
Tyrese Tanner, Auburn
Hasina Muhammad, Auburn
Shacobia Barbee, Georgia
Martha Alwal, Mississippi State
Elem Ibiam, South Carolina
Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina

Jordan Jones, Texas A&M

Freshman team
Ashley Williams, Alabama
Jessica Jackson, Arkansas
Brandy Montgomery, Auburn
Ronni Williams, Florida
Linnae Harper, Kentucky
Raignye Moncrief, LSU
Breanna Richardson, Mississippi State
Alaina Coates, South Carolina
Andraya Carter, Tennessee
(Ties not broken)

SEC Player of the Year: Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina
SEC Coach of the Year: Dawn Staley, South Carolina
SEC Freshman of the Year: Alaina Coates, South Carolina
SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year: Martha Alwal, Mississippi State; Jordan Jones, Texas A&M
SEC Co-6th Women of the Year: Alaina Coates, South Carolina; Jennifer O’Neill, Kentucky
SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Lianna Doty, Missouri

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