South Carolina gets to keep The Associated Press Southeastern Conference player of the year award.
Only this time, it went to A'ja Wilson.
The sophomore forward was a unanimous choice for the AP award announced Tuesday after leading the Gamecocks to a perfect record in the league standings and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
South Carolina's Dawn Staley was coach of the year for the second time in three years, while Missouri guard Sophie Cunningham claimed the freshman of the year award.
Wilson was freshman of the year and a first-team selection in 2015. She unanimously retained her spot on the elite unit and was joined by a pair of teammates — 2015 player of the year Tiffany Mitchell, a first-teamer for the third year in a row, and junior center Alaina Coates, who moved up from a spot on the second team the previous season.
Wilson leads the SEC in blocks (3.1 per game) and ranks fourth in both scoring (16.4 points a game) and rebounding (8.7). She has 12 double-doubles this season, including 19 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Mississippi State for the championship of the SEC tournament.
South Carolina is top seed in the Sioux Falls Regional and will open the NCAAs on Friday against Jacksonville.
"We can't let down," Wilson said.
Mitchell, a senior guard, is seventh in scoring at 14.9 points a game. Coates leads SEC in rebounding (10.1) while averaging 11.6 points and shooting 63.1 percent from the field.
Also making the first team: Texas A&M guard Courtney Walker, Kentucky guard Makayla Epps and Mississippi State forward Victoria Vivians. They are the league's top three scorers, with Walker averaging 18.1 points a game, followed by Vivians (17.2) and Epps (16.5).
Under Staley, the Gamecocks have supplanted Tennessee as the SEC's most dominant team. This season, they romped to a perfect conference record, winning by an average of 16.6 points per game, and claimed another title in the league tournament.
"It means a great deal," Staley said. "It means that we put our names in the history book in this traditionally rich conference. It means that our players have put in the work to be among one of the top teams in this conference."
South Carolina (31-1) became just the fourth team in SEC history to win both regular-season and tournament titles in back-to-back seasons, joining Georgia (1983-84) and Tennessee (1999-2000, 2010-11).
Those are also the only programs until this season to go undefeated in league play in the regular season and in the tournament. Georgia did it in 1986, while the Lady Vols accomplished the feat in 1994 and 2011.
Cunningham led Missouri in scoring (13.5) and connected on 36 percent of her 3-point attempts, pushing the Tigers to their first NCAA tournament berth since 2006.
The AP second team included a pair of Tennessee players, senior forward Bashaara Graves and sophomore guard Diamond DeShields. The other choices were Arkansas forward Jessica Jackson, Georgia guard-forward Shacobia Barbee, Florida guard-forward Ronni Williams, Auburn forward-center Tra'Cee Tanner, and Kentucky forward Evelyn Akhator.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — u-A'ja Wilson, South Carolina
COACH OF THE YEAR — Dawn Staley, South Carolina
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR — Sophie Cunningham, Missouri
u-A'ja Wilson, South Carolina, F, 6-5, So.
Courtney Walker, Texas A&M, G, 5-8, Sr.
Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina, G, 5-9, Sr.
Makayla Epps, Kentucky, G, 5-10, Jr.
t-Alaina Coates, South Carolina, C, 6-4, Jr.
t-Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State, F,
Jessica Jackson, Arkansas, F, 6-3, Jr.
Shacobia Barbee, Georgia, G/F, 5-10, Sr.
Ronni Williams, Florida, G/F, 6-0, Jr.
t-Tra'Cee Tanner, Auburn, F/C, 6-3, Sr.
t-Bashaara Graves, Tennessee, F, 6-2, Sr.
t-Evelyn Akhator, Kentucky, F, 6-3, Jr.
t-Diamond DeShields, Tennessee, G, 6-1, So.
Sophie Cunningham, Missouri, G, 6-1, Fr.; Dominique Dillingham, Mississippi State, G, 5-9, Jr.; Jordan Frericks, Missouri, F, 6-1, Jr.; Tiaria Griffin, Georgia, G, 5-7, Sr.; Alexis Hyder, LSU, F, 5-11, Jr.; Janee Thompson, Kentucky, G, 5-7, Sr.; Courtney Williams, Texas A&M, F/G, 6-1, Sr.
u-unanimous choice to first team; t-tie for last spot on team):