A'ja Wilson is the leader of the team
All-American forward and South Carolina senior A’ja Wilson has been named preseason Player of the Year for women’s basketball this week by College Sports Madness.
Wilson’s selection comes on the heels of a stellar junior campaign in which Wilson averaged 17.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while leading the Gamecocks to the program’s first ever national championship. She earned SEC Player of the Year honors and first-team All-American status while becoming a finalist for most major Player of the Year awards.
The AP Player of the Year last season, Washington guard Kelsey Plum, has graduated, meaning this season will mark just the third time since 2012 the award will change hands.
Wilson was joined on College Sports Madness’s first team All-American squad by Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell, Notre Dame forward Brianna Turner and Connecticut guard and forward Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier, respectively. The outlet also released a second, third and fourth team, but no other Gamecocks were selected.
The Associated Press has yet to unveil its preseason awards or rankings, which will most likely come in the first week of November, shortly before the team’s preseason.
The Naismith Award, given to the nation’s top player, will reveal a 50-player watch list on Nov. 30. The Wooden Award and Wade Trophy, both of which are also given to the nation’s top player, name preseason watch lists as well, but neither has been released yet.
The SEC preseason all-conference teams will be revealed next week at the conference’s media day.
Other Gamecocks who could compete for preseason awards include sophomore guard Tyasha Harris, who earned SEC all-freshman team honors last season, redshirt junior forward and transfer Alexis Jennings, who was also an SEC all-freshman team member while at Kentucky, and coach Dawn Staley, who was named SEC Coach of the Year each season from 2014 to 2016.