Dawn Staley named finalist for Naismith Coach of the Year
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley is one of four finalists for the 2020 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today. It marks the fourth time Staley has been a finalist for the honor (2014, 2015, 2016).
In 2019-20, Staley built the No. 1 team in the country on six returning letterwinners and five freshmen, who made up the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation. Her preseason focus on team building and team chemistry laid the foundation, and she fostered that by having and encouraging constant communication and transparency with and among her team.
The results were evident early as a starting lineup that included three of the five freshmen dominated its first challenge in a victory at then-No. 4/5 Maryland in the second game of the season. The team responded to the adversity of a loss to then-No. 17/23 Indiana with a school-record 26 straight victories to close out the season. Twelve of those remaining 26 wins came against top-25 opponents, including double-digit victories over three top-10 opponents.
South Carolina’s schedule was rated fifth strongest in the country and featured 17 games against RPI top-50. The Gamecocks went 16-0 in SEC play for the second time under Staley – just the fourth 16-0 season in SEC history – and won their fifth regular-season title in seven seasons. They went on to storm through the SEC Tournament to their fifth title in six seasons, defeating their three opponents, which included two ranked foes, by an average of 24.3 points.
Beginning March 20, fans will be able to support their favorite finalist by visiting naismithfanvote.com until April 1, to cast their ballot. The fan vote will count for five percent of the overall final vote. The 2020 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year is scheduled to be announced on April 3, and the winner will be honored at a later date.
The four finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom base their selections on outstanding coaching performances during the 2019-20 regular college basketball season. The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, a premier CPA-led business advisory firm, headquartered in Atlanta.
2020 Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Finalists
Adia Barnes, Arizona
Kelly Graves, Oregon
Joe McKeown, Northwestern
Dawn Staley, South Carolina