COLUMBIA — South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley on Monday was announced as an inductee into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Staley, who just finished her fifth season at USC and took the Gamecocks to their second straight NCAA tournament, is one of the most successful women’s basketball players of all time.
As a point guard, she won Olympic gold medals in 1996, 2000 and 2004, after a college career at Virginia that included three appearances in the Final Four and a trip to the national championship game.
She played in the WNBA from 1999-2006 and made the league’s all-star team with the Charlotte Sting from 2001-03 and with the Houston Comets from 2005-06.
“Ever since I found out that I was on the ballot, I have been in shock,” Staley said. “I still can’t quite embrace how big it is. It’s something that I thought, if it were to happen, would happen when I was much older.
“I am in disbelief about it. I’ve always wanted to be in the Hall of Fame. Nothing quite preps you for the occasion. You can prep for games and having your players zoned in for the opposition. But something like this catches you off guard, even when you know it’s a possibility. It’s incredible.”
Staley was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2011, the WNBA recognized her as one of the top 15 most influential players in league history.
She began her coaching career in her native Philadelphia, in 2000-01 at Temple. She spent eight seasons there before coming to USC. She was recently considered for the vacancy at Ohio State, but decided to remove her name from the search and stay in Columbia.
The Naismith Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held in September in Springfield, Mass. The Class of 2013 also includes Louisville coach Rick Pitino, former Seattle SuperSonics guard Gary Payton and former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian.