Dawn Staley is your 2020 AP Coach of the Year.
It is her first time being bestowed the honor. She received 20 of 30 votes from the national media panel. Northwestern head coach Joe McKeown was second with five votes.
In her 12th season as head coach at the University of South Carolina, Staley guided the Gamecocks to the nation’s best record with 32 wins, one loss and the nation’s longest winning streak — 26 games, and counting.
Her squad ran the table in the always-tough Southeastern Conference, finishing the regular season undefeated before capturing the conference tournament title.
Staley effectively turned a team featuring three freshmen starters into the national title favorite ahead of the now-cancelled 2020 NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina successfully, but still unsatisfactorily, finished the 2020 season ranked No. 1 in both the AP and USA TODAY/WBCA Coaches Polls.
“I would have liked to continue to face the challenges in the NCAA Tournament,” Staley told the AP’s Doug Feinberg.
With all the accolades, she believes her Gamecocks should be crowned national champion. In an interview with The Undefeated, she further insisted that South Carolina deserves greater respect:
We were the No. 1 team in the country longer than anybody this season. We didn’t get treated like the No. 1 team in the country.
Nonetheless, Staley’s players also are beginning to accumulate postseason honors.
Although no Gamecocks were named to the AP All-American First Team, freshman forward Aliyah Boston was named to the Second Team and senior guard Tyasha Harris was named to the Third Team. The US Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) also selected Boston and Harris to their All-American Second and Third Teams, respectively.
Harris also earned the The Dawn Staley Award, which recognizes “the player who exemplifies the skills that Staley possessed throughout her career — ball handling, scoring, ability to distribute the basketball and the will to win.”
Boston has been named a finalist for the Naismith Women’s Defensive Player of the Year Award.