Opinions & Features Success Story Women April 24, 2020 at 11:00 am

Basketball star Dawn Staley named 2020 Coach of the Year

Theodora Aidoo | Staff Writer

Theodora Aidoo April 24, 2020 at 11:00 am

April 24, 2020 at 11:00 am | Opinions & Features, Success Story, Women

Pic Credit: AP Photo/Gary McCullough

The University of South Carolina Women’s basketball head coach, Dawn Staley, has been named 2020 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year. Staley is the first person to win the coveted College Coach of the Year, as well as, the College Player of the Year.

 “It is truly an honour to receive the Naismith National Coach of the Year, and, while I’m the one receiving the award, every head coach knows you cannot be a good coach without great assistants, great support staff, and great players. So, this award is every bit as much theirs as it is mine,” Staley said in a statement.

“We are blessed at the University of South Carolina to have the best FAMS in the nation. They support us every day, on the court and off it, and it is my hope that during this trying time in our nation, when games like basketball seem so distant, that reading about this award gives those fans a little bit of joy and reminds them a little of what we can all look forward to when we come through this time on the other side. To the committee, to my staff, to our players and to our FAMS–thank you–and I can’t wait to get back on the court!” she added.

Staley made history becoming the first-ever men’s or women’s honoree to have won the award. She has previously won the Citizen Naismith Trophy for the player of the year, which she received two times while playing at the University of Virginia (1991 and 1992).

Staley, who graduated from Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Communication Studies was the second African-American coach to win a national title in women’s basketball.

Dawn Staley named AP National Coach of the Year
Pic Credit: wistv.com

Staley’s basketball career began as an athlete in 1989. She won a total of 10 gold medals as an athlete, including three Olympic and two FIBA World Championship gold medals, one bronze medal and seven international invitational titles from 1989-2004.

As an athlete, Staley was reportedly a fixture on USA Basketball teams nearly every year from 1989-2004. She is a two-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year (1994, 2004). Staley was named the MVP at the 1994 Goodwill Games and served on the USA Basketball Executive Committee as an athlete representative.

In 2004, Staley was voted by all U.S. team captains to carry the United States flag and lead the USA’s delegation into the Athens Olympics Opening Ceremonies. She was a member of the historic 1995-96 USA Basketball Women’s National Team that rolled up a 60-0 record, captured the 1996 Olympic gold medal and was named the 1996 USA Basketball and U.S. Olympic Committee Team of the Year.

She then transitioned into coaching. She received her first USA Basketball coaching assignment as an assistant to the 2006 USA World Championship Team and was later asked to remain on board through the 2008 Olympics.

According to reports, with Staley on the sideline, the USA National Team from 2006-08 posted a 32-2 record, captured the 2008 Olympic and 2007 FIBA Americas Championship gold medals and the 2006 FIBA World Championship bronze medal.

She was also the acting head coach for the 2006 USA National Team during its training in Australia and led the team to victory against China. Staley has since coached the top-tier USA Basketball teams, headed up a number of coaching staff at the USA Basketball junior level, and three years pulled double-duty as a head coach for a USA junior team and an assistant coach for the USA National Team. 

She was named on March 10, 2017, as head coach of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team through 2020. She led the USA Basketball Women’s National Team to earn a 6-0 record and the gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, which qualified the USA for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games (July 24 – Aug. 9 in Tokyo, Japan).

In the 2019-20 season, Staley and her team, the South Carolina Gamecocks collected a 13-1 record against nationally-ranked opponents, including wins over three teams that finished the season in the top five.

In 12 seasons, Staley’s Gamecocks have won the 2017 National Championship and finished the season in the Final Four once, Elite Eight once and Sweet 16 four times. Her teams have won five SEC regular-season titles in the last seven seasons and five of the last six SEC Tournament crowns.

Dawn Staley sues Missouri AD for slander; SEC fines him
Pic Credit: AP

Her SEC regular-season winning per cent of .726 is second only to Tennessee’s Pat Summitt in league history, and her 11.5 SEC victories per season are the most of any head coach all-time. Staley’s 305 wins at South Carolina are the most by a Gamecock basketball coach – men’s or women’s. She is a four-time SEC Coach of the Year, including becoming the first in league history to win the title three straight seasons.

Last year, Staley led the 2019 USA AmeriCup Team to a gold medal with a 6-0 mark in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Earlier this year, AP named her women’s basketball coach of the year.

Her coaching efforts have won her numerous award and accolades. She was named the 2004 and 2005 A-10 Coach of the Year; the 2005 WBCA Region 1 Coach of the Year; 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2006 Philadelphia Big 5 Coach of the Year. Staley was also named as co-recipient of the USA Basketball National Coach of the Year award in 2015.

In 2006, Staley was presented with the 2006 Temple University Hospital Auxiliary Diamond Award and honored with the 2006 Distinguished Alumna Award for the University of Virginia.

The WNBA announced the commencement of the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in 2007. The honour is earned by the WNBA player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community in which she works or lives.

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