Over the past four years, the South Carolina women’s basketball team has seen it all. From conference titles and tournament appearances to producing WNBA players and battling COVID-19, head coach Dawn Staley has proved nothing short of a success with her Gamecocks.
When graduating students think of Gamecock women’s basketball athletes over the past four years, there is one go-to name, and that name is A’ja Wilson.
Wilson finished her Gamecock basketball career after the 2017-18 season, moving on to the WNBA, where she was drafted first overall by the Las Vegas Aces. Wilson was awarded National Player of the Year and was also named the SEC Player of the Year during her senior year. In her final season, she led the Gamecocks to a historic SEC title win and to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
“A’ja has done so many great things for the community as a whole at South Carolina, like, I’ve never known a person that brings a whole state together,” Allisha Gray, a former teammate of Wilson, said in 2018.
In addition to Wilson, Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Tyasha Harris are two players who cannot be forgotten when discussing the Gamecocks' success over the past four years.
Herbert Harrigan and Harris finished their college careers after the 2019-20 season and, like Wilson, moved on to the WNBA, where they both were drafted in the first round. The two teammates helped to lead the Gamecocks to a 32-1 season and an SEC title their senior year before their final season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sophomore forward Aliyah Boston is another standout player students have been able to watch over the past two years.
In her freshman season, Boston earned National Freshman of the Year. More recently, Boston was named First-Team All-American by the Associated Press and ESPN. Along with this, she holds the title of co-Defensive Player of the Year.
Looking back since the 2017-2018 season, the Gamecocks have had their fair share of iconic victories.
The 2017-2018 season was one for the record books, as the Gamecocks captured a historic fourth-straight SEC title over No. 2 Mississippi State.
''It's a blessing and an honor,'' Wilson said in 2018. ''The SEC is a great conference and to make history like that, to be a team that's gone four times in a row to the championship and won it, it's a great feeling."
On Feb. 10, 2020, the Gamecocks secured a 70-52 win over the UConn Huskies, the program's first in the history of the team. Boston, Herbert Harrigan, Harris and current sophomore guard Zia Cooke all greatly contributed to this historic win, as a packed Colonial Life Arena cheered them onto victory.
“We had 18,000 fans. You look on social media and [people] took off work, came from different states. The ones here just rallied everybody. I’m happy for them, because they cheered loud and proud. They wanted this for us in the same breath that we wanted it for us. We felt that,” Staley said in 2020.
In more recent victories, South Carolina secured another SEC title this season, as the team beat Georgia 67-62. This win is South Carolina's third SEC title in the past four years.
"We earned it on the court, and we earned it off the court," Staley said in a press conference after the team's SEC title victory.
It is impossible to reflect on the past four years of South Carolina basketball without discussing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the Gamecocks having to forego the rest of the 2019-2020 season.
The season was looking to potentially be another national championship year, as the Gamecocks were on a 26-game winning streak and had just won the SEC title before the pandemic.
Though the pandemic put everything on hold, the Gamecocks still finished the season as the No. 1 team in the country.
"If you had to give out a national championship, then we played up to that," Staley said at a press conference last spring. "We played up to being the number one team in the country."