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Autumn Johnson | October 2, 2020

Dawn Staley builds her ultimate Gamecock Dream player

Dawn Staley builds her ultimate Gamecock Dream player

South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley built her ultimate Gamecock dream player. NCAA.com gave Staley 10 different categories on the court to pick Gamecock players she's coached in her 12 years at South Carolina. 

Here's what Dawn Staley had to say about each category: 

The Quarterback

"Ty Harris. I think when you've won a national championship as a freshman, and then your game continues to get better with a different core of players probably each year that you've played, but yet you were the captain of the ship that made it run smoothly. And I think she was going to cap her career off with another national championship that was cut due to COVID." 

Ty-Harris-South-Carolina

Ty Harris, Guard (2016-2020)

  • Ty Harris accumulated 1,340 career points (2016-17 through 2019-20)
  • Averaged 9.6 points per game, 5.1 assists per game, shot 79.2% from the free throw line, 38.4% from the 3-point line 
  • Led team to the No. 1 ranking during the 2019-20 season
  • Helped the Gamecocks win the 2017 NCAA title, 2018 Elite Eight and 2019 Sweet Sixteen
  • Three-time SEC Champion 
  • 1st on South Carolina's career assists list (702)
  • 1st in South Carolina's career assists-to-turnover ratio list (2.55)
  • Led the SEC in assists overall and 12th in the NCAA her senior season

The Bucket-getter 

"I'm going to have to go with Tiffany Mitchell. Tiffany Mitchell was one that we called her number time and time again, and she was a part of the first team that took us to our first Final Four in South Carolina."

Tiffany-Mitchell-South-Carolina

Tiffany Mitchell, guard (2012-2016)

  • Tiffany Mitchell scored 1,885 career points (2012-13 through 2015-16)
  • Averaged 13.6 ppg, shot 39.9% from the 3-point line and 77.3% from the free throw line
  • 2nd in career 3-point field goal percentage in a career in program history
  • 2nd in career free throw percentage in a career 
  • Ranked seventh in scoring in the SEC her senior season 

The Lockdown Defender 

"I'm going to get some of my players mad at me, but I'm going to have to go with Khadijah Sessions. She was a point guard that it didn't matter whether it was practice, it didn't matter whether it was a game, it didn't matter whether it was a pick-up. She always brought that defensive mentality. She was going to stop any of her opponents that faced her, so I have to give it to her."

Khadijah-Sessions-South-Carolina

Khadijah Sessions, Guard (2012-2016)

  • Khadijah Sessions ranked fourth in SEC steals in league play and was fifth overall her senior season
  • Led South Carolina in steals her junior and senior seasons
  • Finished with 187 career steals 
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The Clutch Gene 

"A'ja Wilson is probably the Clutch Gene as you can see what she has done for South Carolina. She took us to two Final Fours, got us a national championship, she was a Rookie of the Year in the WNBA, she is now the MVP. A'ja Wilson." 

A'ja Wilson, Forward (2014-2018)

  • Averaged 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting 55% from the field and blocking 363 shots in her career
  • A'ja Wilson was the 2018 Consensus National Player of the Year
  • Wooden Award, 2018 
  • Naismith Trophy Winner, 2018
  • Wade Trophy winner, 2018
  • Three-time SEC Player of the Year (2016-18)
  • Two-time SEC Tournament MVP (2017 and 2018)
  • NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, 2017
  • SEC Freshman of the Year, 2014

The Heart 

"Oooh. I'm going to have to say...wow. I have to go back to Khadijah Sessions. It's what she brought to our program every single day of the week. Every single day. Until this day, if we have something that's going on she'll stop what she's doing and she'll come. She comes to practice every now and then, and practice with us and she raises the level of our play and practice." 

Khadijah-Sessions-The-Heart-South-Carolina

Khadijah Sessions, Guard (2012-2016)

  • Sessions was named team captain her senior year
  • Averaged 5.9 ppg, 2.2 assists and shot 65% from the free throw line
  • Led South Carolina to three SEC regular season championships 

The IQ 

"I am going to go with a young buck. I'm going to go with Brea Beal. Brea Beal is very smart, she plays both sides of the ball extremely well. I just think her ceiling is off the charts when it comes to understanding and knowing basketball."

South-Carolina-Brea-Beal

Brea Beal, Sophomore Guard (2019 - current) 

  • Beal averaged 6.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and had 27 steals her freshman season
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The Athletic Wonder

"Zia Cooke. It's just the tip of the iceberg of what she was able to do her freshman year. But moving forward, she has all the skills to be a bucket-getter, the heart, everything. Zia is probably the most athletic player that I've coached."

South-Carolina-Zia-Cooke-Athletic-Wonder

Zia Cooke, Sophomore Guard (2019 - current) 

  • Cooke averaged 12 points, 35.7% from the 3-point line, 71.2% from the free throw line, and had 36 steals and 61 assists her freshman season

The Shooter 

"That's probably the one thing that we haven't had at South Carolina. Just the knock-down shooter. I am going to say A'ja Wilson, because there is proof in the numbers. She was an over 50-percent shooter for us. I know some of those are layups, but a lot of those are mid-range. Not 3s, we're trying to get her to work on that part of her game."

South-Carolina-A'ja-Wilson

A'ja Wilson, Forward (2014-2018)

  • Wilson is first in program history in career points (2,389), blocked shots (363) and free throws made (597)
  • Wilson ranks second in program history in career field goals made (893) and double-doubles (54)

The Glue 

"I'm going to say the glue is Victaria Saxton. She is an unsung hero. Obviously, if 'V' was a 30-minute player for us, you would see her stats go off the charts, but because she's played with some great players when we've called her number, she's come through for us on and off the court." 

Victaria-Saxton-South-Carolina

Victaria Saxton, Junior Forward (2018 - current) 

  • Saxton has averaged 4.8 points, 3.5 rebounds through her first two seasons while shooting 57.1% from the field and blocking 78 shots and making 43 teals

The Dirty Worker

"I'm going to have to give that to Lele Grissett. I say that, because we've moved her from being a post player to being a guard, yet her impact no matter where she is on the floor, she gets untimely steals, she's always on the offensive boards. Whenever we call her number if we're down by 10, there's three minutes left in the game she's the first person I call to go out there and be a one-woman press. So that goes to Lele." 

South-Carolina-Lele-Grissett

Lele Grissett, Senior guard/forward (2017 - current) 

  • Grissett averaged 4.7 points, 3.8 rebounds her first three seasons
  • Grissett shot 62.6% her junior season, scoring a career-high 6.4 points per game
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