Boston Leads Six Gamecocks with SEC Awards

South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston (4) shoots next to Auburn center Oyindamola Akinbolawa...
South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston (4) shoots next to Auburn center Oyindamola Akinbolawa (20) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Auburn, Ala.. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)(Butch Dill | AP)
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 11:42 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley and five Gamecocks featured prominently in the annual SEC awards, the conference office announced today. For the second time in as many seasons, senior Aliyah Boston captured SEC Player of the Year and SEC Defensive Player of the Year recognition. Senior Zia Cooke joined her on the All-SEC First Team, and senior Brea Beal joined Boston on the SEC All-Defensive Team. Junior center Kamilla Cardoso earned the SEC Sixth Woman of the Year award and a spot on the All-SEC Second Team. Redshirt-freshman Raven Johnson picked up an SEC All-Freshman Team spot.

Staley has led her Gamecocks to become just the fourth SEC team to finish the regular season undefeated, sitting atop both the AP and Coaches Polls every week of the season. The Gamecocks’ current 36-week run at No. 1 ties Louisiana Tech for the second-longest streak in the history of that poll. Seven Gamecocks have led the team in scoring at least once, including five who came off the bench to do it. South Carolina’s six wins over ranked opponents are the third most in the country this season, and its three ranked road wins are the second most.

The reigning National Player of the Year, Boston is the only player in the country ranked in the top five of both offensive and defensive player rating, leading the SEC in both categories. Her 13.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game on the season go up dramatically against ranked opponents to 16.8 points and 11.7 rebounds. Her 18 double-doubles rank sixth in the NCAA. Despite playing just 25.8 minutes per game, Boston is among the NCAA top 30 in rebounding average and blocks per game (2.0).

Cooke is enjoying the most efficient season of her career, leading the Gamecocks and ranking eighth in the SEC with 15.5 points per game on a career-high 41.3 percent field goal shooting. Her scoring average rises to 17.0 in SEC contests, the sixth-best mark in the league. Cooke has scored in double figures 25 times through 29 games this season, including six outings over 20 points. In addition to her own scoring, Cooke has handed out 2.1 assists per game, which led to another 4.7 points per game. The combination means she has had her hands on 24.8 percent of South Carolina’s total offense. That percentage rose to 26.6 percent in SEC action – 17.0 ppg, 4.3 ppg off assists).

Beal has long been the unsung centerpiece of a Gamecock defense that ranks among the stingiest in the nation annually. According to Her Hoop Stats, she in the top 25 in player defensive rating and defensive win shares per 40 minutes. Beal ranks among the SEC’s top 15 in blocked shots, swatting 1.1 per game, including three games of three or more, highlighted by a career-high five against South Dakota State (Dec. 15). According to Synergy has allowed just 4.1 points per game on 21.6 percent field goal shooting.

Cardoso is among the most productive rebounders in the SEC, ranking third in rebounding average at 8.9 and second in offensive rebounds at 3.7, which ranks her 20th in the NCAA. She is fourth in the nation in offensive rebounding ratee (.215) and total rebounding rage (.247). She has been the team’s top rebounder 12 times and grabbed double-digit rebounds 11 times through 29 games, coming off the bench to play just 18.2 minutes per game. Cardoso is third on the team in scoring at 9.7 points per game, a number that rises to 12.7 points per game against ranked opponents. She is second on the team with seven double-doubles.

Johnson ranks among the most sure-handed guards in the country, coming in 13th with a 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio. She has handed out 3.2 assists per game to rank 12th in the SEC, playing just 17.2 minutes per game, making her 18th in the nation in assists per 40 minutes. Johnson has posted five or more assists eight times this season, including four games with a career-high seven.

SEC Champion and No. 1/1 South Carolina (29-0, 16-0 SEC) is back in action on Fri., Mar. 3, in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals in Greenville, S.C, facing either No. 8-seed Arkansas or No. 9-seed Missouri. Tipoff is set for noon on SEC Network.

Continue to check and the team’s social media accounts (@GamecockWBB) for the most up-to-date information on the women’s basketball season.

2023 SEC Awards

Player of the Year: Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

Coach of the Year: Dawn Staley, South Carolina

Defensive Player of the Year: Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

Freshman of the Year: Flau’jae Johnson, LSU

Sixth Woman of the Year: Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina

Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Hannah Barber, Alabama

All-SEC First Team

Angel Baker, Ole Miss

Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

Zia Cooke, South Carolina

Brittany Davis, Alabama

Jordan Horston, Tennessee

Rickea Jackson, Tennessee

Alexis Morris, LSU

Angel Reese, LSU

All-SEC Second Team

Erynn Barnum, Arkansas

Diamond Battles, Georgia

Kamilla Cardoso, South Carolina

Jessika Carter, Mississippi State

Aicha Coulibaly, Auburn

Hayley Frank, Missouri

Ciaja Harbison, Vanderbilt

Madison Scott, Ole Miss

All-Freshman Team

Janiah Barker, Texas A&M

Sydney Bowles, Texas A&M

Flau’jae Johnson, LSU

Raven Johnson, South Carolina

Ashton Judd, Missouri

Saylor Poffenbarger, Arkansas

Debreasha Powe, Mississippi State

Sa’Myah Smith, LSU

All-Defensive Team

Diamond Battles, Georgia

Brea Beal, South Carolina

Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

Jessika Carter, Mississippi State

Angel Reese, LSU

Madison Scott, Ole Mis