Clemson

Last Season: 10-20, 3-11 ACC (11th place)

Coach: Itoro Coleman, 10-20 in second year at Clemson.

Key Returners: F/C Shaniqua Pauldo, 6-3, sr. (8.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg), F/C Lindsay Mason, 6-4, sr. (6.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg)

Impact Newcomers: PG Chelsea Lindsay , 5-6, fr.; PG Nikki Dixon, 5-10, fr.; SG Kelly Gramlich, 5-10, fr.

Notes: If Clemson is to significantly improve in its second year under Coleman the team's strength will be defense. The Tigers have two centers in Shaniqua Pauldo and Lindsay Mason. On a team lacking offensive power, the goal is to keep foes below 60 points. Clemson must replace its top two scorers in Kirstin Wright (12.3 ppg) and Sthefany Thomas (11.8) from last season. Clemson has added key freshmen Chelsea Lindsay, a true point guard, and Kelly Gramlich, an excellent 3-point shooter.

South Carolina

Last season: 18-15, 8-8 in SEC (Tied for 5th)

Coach: Dawn Staley, 42-48 in 4 seasons at South Carolina, 214-128 overall.

Players to watch: G Ieasia Walker, 5-8, jr. (12.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg); G La'Keisha Sutton, 5-8, sr. (10.2 ppg, 3.6 apg); G Markeshia Grant, 5-6, sr. (6.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg).

Notes: The Gamecocks finished fifth in the SEC last season but were picked for eighth in the conference's 2011-2012 preseason poll. … Head coach Dawn Staley has improved the team win total by four each of the last two seasons. … Eight letter winners return and USC should have one of the better backcourts in the league.

South Carolina State

Last season: 14-19, 6-10 in MEAC (8th)

Coach: Doug Robertson, 32-59 in 3 seasons at South Carolina State, 85-91 overall.

Players to watch: C Frannie Goodwin, 6-2, Sr. (7.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg); F Tracey Flowers, 5-10, Sr. (6.5 ppg., 4.0 rpg); G Trinese Fox, 5-9, Jr. (6.6 ppg., 2.14 apg); G Tiara Knotts, 5-4, Jr. (8.9 pg., 4.3 apg).

Notes: The Bulldogs were picked to finish ninth in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference preseason poll. … The Bulldogs return four starters from the 2010-11 team. … The Bulldogs return their leading scorer from last season in Tiara Knotts and their leading rebounder in Fannie Goodwin.