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Gamecocks' Dawn Staley named AP National Coach of the Year

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Dawn Staley

South Carolina coach Dawn Staley won her first National Coach of the Year award on Monday. Travis Bell/Sideline Carolina

COLUMBIA — South Carolina women's basketball coach Dawn Staley was named the Associated Press National Coach of the Year on Monday.

The Gamecocks finished the season with a 32-1 record and ranked No. 1 in each of the major polls, were predicted to be the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and won the SEC regular-season and tournament championships.

“This team was truly special,” Staley said last week. “By far the best team that I ever coached in my 20-year career.”

After a good-but-not-great 2018-19 season and an offseason that saw three players transfer, Staley added the country’s best recruiting class and immediately implemented it. She started three freshmen all season, including National Freshman of the Year frontrunner and second-team All-American Aliyah Boston, with seniors Ty Harris, a Naismith National Player of the Year finalist, and SEC Tournament MVP Mikiah Herbert Harrigan.

The Gamecocks had won 26 straight games when the season was called due to the coronavirus pandemic, and were considered the favorite to win the national championship. Staley will collect an additional $25,000 bonus for the award after she had already claimed $155,000 in bonuses beside her $1.6 million salary.

Staley is also one of four finalists for the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award, which will be announced on April 3. 

Boston was named a Naismith Defensive Player of the Year finalist on Monday along with Arizona's Aari McDonald, Baylor's DiDi Richards and Louisville's Kylee Shook. The winner will be announced on April 1. 

Follow David Cloninger on Twitter @DCPandC.

From Rock Hill, S.C., David Cloninger covers Gamecock sports. He will not rest until he owns every great film and song ever recorded.

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