South Carolina women’s basketball will open the 2019-20 rankings near the top of the Associated Press preseason poll. The Gamecocks checked in at No. 8 in the first rankings of the season, released Wednesday.
With this preseason ranking, USC will be heavily favored to advance to the program’s ninth consecutive NCAA tournament and seventh consecutive Sweet 16. It also extends USC’s run of appearances in the poll to 2,515 days, starting Dec. 10, 2012. That total encompasses 132 polls and is the fifth longest active streak in the nation.
South Carolina’s main SEC rivals are also in the top 10 — Texas A&M at No. 6 and Mississippi State at No. 10. The Gamecocks are also set to face No. 4 Maryland in the second game of the season on Nov. 10, as well as No. 2 Baylor, No. 5 UConn, No. 13 Kentucky and No. 22 Arkansas this year.
Coach Dawn Staley’s team has also been picked to win the SEC in the preseason media poll and finish second in conference in the coaches poll. Senior guard Tyasha Harris was a first-team All-SEC preseason selection by both the media and coaches, and senior forward Mikiah Herbert Harrigan was a consensus second-team selection.
The Gamecocks feature a freshman class that was rated the best in the country by ESPN, composed of four former five-star prospects and three McDonald’s All-Americans — point guard Zia Cooke, guard Olivia Thompson, wing Brea Beal, forward Laeticia Amihere and forward Aliyah Boston.
Destiny Littleton, a transfer from Texas, is still awaiting word on a potential NCAA waiver that would make her immediately eligible to play this year. If she does not receive it, she will have to sit out the season.
South Carolina lost four players to graduation and three players to transfer from last year’s squad, accounting for 55% of that team’s point production and minutes.
The Gamecocks open the 2019-20 season with an exhibition on Friday against North Georgia at 7 p.m., followed by the official season opener next Tuesday against Alabama State at Colonial Life Arena, also tipping off at 7 p.m.
AP PRESEASON TOP 25
6. Texas A&M
7. Oregon State
8. South Carolina
10. Mississippi State
12. Florida State
14. North Carolina State
16. Notre Dame
17. Michigan State
18. Miami (Fla.)
20. Arizona State