Staley embraces double duty coaching Team USA, Carolina hoops

Staley embraces double duty coaching Team USA, Carolina hoops
FILE - In this April 24, 2018, file photo, coach Dawn Staley talks with players and assistant coaches during a practice for the U.S. women's basketball team in Seattle. Staley would be prepping the U.S. women’s basketball team for the Tokyo Olympics this week if not for the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, she’ll hold a Zoom conference call with players who are vying for a spot on the roster in 2021, if the postponed Olympics are held next year. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) (Source: Elaine Thompson)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina women’s head basketball coach Dawn Staley welcomes wearing two hats this week.

“The reward is you get to work with the very best,” said Staley, Team USA women’s basketball head coach.

She leads Team USA practices while prepping her Carolina camp for a test at UConn on Monday.

“We got the best players in the world and best players in the country that I get to work with for the next few days,” Staley added. “This is basketball utopia for me.”

Staley commands the court beaming with pride. She’s the first Black woman to guide the national team. To serve in this role is something she never dreamt about growing up, eventually starring for the red, white, and blue as a player.

“As a little girl, I didn’t even want to coach,” mentioned Staley. “When you start coaching, you have an appetite to coach the best and be the best.”

Without a doubt, in Columbia this week are the very best practicing to represent Team USA in the upcoming Olympic games.

“They find a way to compete every time they step onto the floor,” Staley said. “That is the reward. That’s the way I approached it as a player. That’s what I approach it as a coach. It’s a beautiful thing when you see it come together.”

For Staley, the one player that stands out among this terrifically talented group is former Huskies star Breanna Stewart.

“She is a difference-maker,” said Staley. “She can play any position and make it seem like her natural position.”

Of course, Staley quickly smiled and remarked, don’t tell A’ja Wilson that. Wilson, a Team USA member, has a statue sitting outside Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, commemorating her achievements in the Garnet and Black.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall when A’ja finds out.

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