COLUMBIA - A day after earning the program's first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, South Carolina's women's basketball team piled onto its already impressive amount of postseason recognition.
Dawn Staley was voted Associated Press SEC Coach of the Year on Tuesday, while freshman Alaina Coates was the AP SEC Newcomer of the Year.
Coates, a five-time SEC freshman of the week, was the only freshman and only reserve in the league to rank among the top 25 in scoring (12.0 ppg) and top 20 in rebounding (8.0 rpg). Her eight double-doubles are one shy of the South Carolina freshman record and include five in SEC play. She is only the second South Carolina player ever honored with the award.
"From last night's No. 1 seed to today's award announcement, we continue to appreciate the national attention our program is getting, and I love seeing our team rewarded for all of its hard work and sacrifice to put us in this position," Staley said Monday in a released statement. "But a new season starts for us this weekend, and we are ready and focused on achieving our next milestone in a great season."
Sophomore guard Tiffany Mitchell - the SEC Player of the Year as voted on by league coaches - was the only unanimous selection to the AP All-SEC First Team. Junior forward and Goose Creek native Aleighsa Welch was named to AP All-SEC Second Team, while Coates was an honorable mention.
Mitchell leads the Gamecocks in scoring (15.2 ppg), assists (3.5 apg) and steals (1.9 spg). During the SEC season, Mitchell was the only player in the conference to earn a spot among the league's rankings in scoring (ninth), rebounding (16th), assists (11th) and steals (seventh).
Welch ranks 17th in the league in scoring (13.7 ppg) and ninth in rebounds (7.5 rpg).
Here's the full list of AP SEC women's basketball postseason awards:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Meighan Simmons, Tennessee
COACH OF THE YEAR- Dawn Staley, South Carolina
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR - Alaina Coates, South Carolina
u-Tiffany Mitchell, South Carolina
Isabelle Harrison, Tennessee
Meighan Simmons, Tennessee
Courtney Walker, Texas A&M
t-Martha Alwal, Mississippi State
t-Christina Foggie, Vanderbilt
t-Tia Faleru, Mississippi
Theresa Plaisance, LSU
Bri Kulas, Missouri
Aleighsa Welch, South Carolina
Jaterra Bonds, Florida
Tyrese Tanner, Auburn
Shacobia Barbee, Georgia; Alaina Coates, South Carolina; Jessica Jackson, Arkansas; Valencia McFarland, Mississippi; Jennifer O'Neill, Kentucky; DeNesha Stallworth, Kentucky