USC Women's Basketball

Alaina Coates finds new WNBA team — close to home

It didn’t take long for former South Carolina women’s basketball star Alaina Coates to find a new WNBA home, as the Atlanta Dream announced they had signed Coates on Thursday, just four days after she was waived by the Minnesota Lynx.

“We are thrilled to add a player with the size and athleticism of Alaina,” Atlanta coach Nicki Collen said in a press release. “We have struggled at times with defensive rebounding and scoring efficiently around the rim this season, and we believe she can help us in those two areas now and in the future.”

In 14 games this season, Coates, a 6-foot-4 center, averaged 2.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 0.3 blocks and 1.2 personal fouls per game on 6.5 minutes per contest for the Lynx.

Coates was cut from the Lynx on Sunday, just two days after playing the Dream in Atlanta in front of family members and friends who made the drive from South Carolina to see her. She will now become the first South Carolina player to play for the closest WNBA franchise to Columbia.

Coates was drafted No. 2 overall in 2017 by the Chicago Sky but missed a season with an ankle injury. After her 2018 rookie campaign, she was traded by the Sky to the Lynx for a 2020 third-round draft pick. Coates played the 2018-2019 offseason in China after averaging 3.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 11.4 minutes per game in her first WNBA season.

As a Gamecock, she was a four-time All-SEC center and holds the program record for field goal percentage in a career and a season. She is also USC’s second all-time leading rebounder and one of only six Gamecocks ever to record a triple-double.

With Coates, there are five former Gamecocks currently on a WNBA roster — A’ja Wilson on the Las Vegas Aces, Tiffany Mitchell on the Indiana Fever and Kaela Davis and Allisha Gray on the Dallas Wings.

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.