South Carolina was picked to win the SEC women’s basketball championship, because how could it not be?
The Gamecocks, 45-3 in the league over the past three years and a three-peat regular-season champion, were selected to win a fourth straight title by the league’s media. USC returns 2016 SEC Player of the Year/Defensive Player of the Year A’ja Wilson – who was picked as 2016-17 Preseason SEC Player of the Year – and 2016 first-team all-SEC selection Alaina Coates.
Coates and Wilson were two of the five players selected on the 2016-17 preseason all-SEC team. Coates also received votes for preseason Player of the Year.
USC has won 22 straight games against SEC competition, which encompasses back-to-back regular-season championships and two SEC tournament titles. They joined 2010-11 Tennessee as the only league teams to go 19-0 against the SEC in one season, and became one of three programs in the league’s history to win three straight regular-season crowns.
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If they win a fourth, as the media predicts, the Gamecocks would join Tennessee (1998-04) as the only SEC programs to win at least that many consecutive titles. The Lady Vols won seven straight in that stretch.
The Gamecocks had one of their players picked as preseason player of the year for the third straight season. Tiffany Mitchell, two-time SEC Player of the Year, was picked to win a third prize last season but lost to Wilson.
Wilson was a consensus All-American as a sophomore and a finalist for the three National Player of the Year awards. She is the only returnee from the Naismith finalists after Mitchell and Connecticut’s Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson graduated.
Wilson and Coates are each 1,000-point scorers and Wilson led the league in blocks (3.12 per game) and field-goal percentage (53.1). Coates was ninth in the country in double-doubles (20) and has over 900 career rebounds.
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SEC Preseason Media Poll
1. South Carolina
2. Mississippi State
6. Texas A&M
14. Ole Miss
Preseason Player of the Year
A’ja Wilson, South Carolina
Preseason All-SEC First Team
▪ Makayla Epps, Kentucky
▪ Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State
▪ Alaina Coates, South Carolina
▪ A’ja Wilson, South Carolina
▪ Diamond DeShields, Tennessee