South Carolina tops women’s college basketball’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2020-21
By definition, the Way-Too-Early Top 25 is considered premature. These rankings are traditionally an initial look at the future through binoculars, not a microscope.
But that isn’t the case this year. This preview of what we might expect in the 2020-21 women’s college basketball season feels more like a need than a nicety.
After the NCAA tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, looking forward to next season is all we have. There is nothing premature about it. The next games can’t come soon enough.
So while we are still reluctantly saying goodbye to 2019-20 and wondering what might have been, we also can’t wait to look ahead. ESPN.com’s Mechelle Voepel, Graham Hays and Charlie Creme cast their votes to determine our rankings.
The Gamecocks are our unanimous No. 1 for next season. That should feel familiar as South Carolina topped the AP Top 25 since mid-January and ended the shortened season at No. 1 for the first time after running the table in the SEC.
Losing seniors Tyasha Harris at point guard and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan at forward will hurt; they combined to average just over 25 points and nine rebounds this season. They also sparked the team’s chemistry. But South Carolina returns three starters — forward Aliyah Boston (12.5 PPG, 9.4 RPG) and guards Zia Cooke (12.1 PPG) and Brea Beal (6.2 PPG) — who’ll be experienced sophomores next season.
Destanni Henderson, who was second on the team in assists (93) to Harris, should see more time, as will rising senior LeLe Grissett. Fellow guard Destiny Littleton, a transfer from Texas who sat out this season, will be eligible.
The Gamecocks will add another guard in freshman Eniya Russell, a HoopGurlz top-50 prospect. Rising junior Victaria Saxton, a forward, is expected to play a bigger role, too. Just as the Gamecocks were strong contenders for the NCAA title this year, they’ll be the same next season. — Voepel