New York City, NY (WLTX) - WNBA teams selected three USC Gamecocks in the First Round of the 2017 Draft, the best showing ever for the school in the annual selection process.
Center Alaina Coates was the second pick overall, going to the Chicago Sky. With the fourth pick, the Dallas Wings chose Allisha Gray for their team. The Wings must like the Gamecocks, since they picked guard Kaela Davis six slots later with the 10th overall pick.
It's the first time three Gamecocks have been drafted in the first round. Coates and Gray are the school's highest selections ever; previously, the highest a Gamecock was drafted was 9th overall.
The announcements were made Thursday night in New York City. Coates becomes the highest Gamecock ever drafted in women's basketball.
A four-time All-SEC selection, Coates finished her four seasons as the program’s all-time leader in career field goal percentage (.620) and career defensive rebounds (850). She is second in career rebounds (1230), double-doubles (57) and blocked shots (210) and has seven other top-10 entries in the Gamecocks’ career record book, including ranking 10th in scoring (1603). Coates became just the third Gamecock all-time to amass 1,000 career points and rebounds and the first since 1980-81 to collect 50 career double-doubles. She is the fourth Gamecock to accrue 1,500 career points playing every season in the SEC and the 12th overall to hit that mark. In 2016-17, Coates averaged a double-double overall (12.9 ppg/10.7 rpg), in SEC action (12.7 ppg/11.1 rpg) and against ranked opponents (11.8 ppg/11.4 rpg).
Gray became the Gamecocks’ most consistent guard as she quietly amassed 29 double-figure scoring games in the team’s 37 outings. She was 19th in the SEC in scoring at 13.2 points per game and shot 51.0 percent from the field. Her contributions went beyond the scoring column, though, as she was second on the team with 2.5 assists per game and posted 18 games of five or more rebounds and nine games of four or more assists. She was named to the All-Tournament teams in both the NCAA Stockton Regional and the Final Four.
Davis enjoyed just one season as a Gamecock after transferring into the program from Georgia Tech, and her presence helped deliver South Carolina’s first NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship in 2017. The NCAA Stockton Regional Most Outstanding Player averaged 15.5 points in the NCAA Tournament, and her 16.3 points per game on 50.0 percent shooting in the SEC Tournament helped deliver the Gamecocks’ third straight title at the event. Four of her eight 20-point games came in the postseason, including both games of the Stockton Regional.
Six Gamecocks had previously been drafted all-time in the WNBA Draft, including two during head coach Dawn Staley’s tenure – Aleighsa Welch (2015) and Tiffany Mitchell (2016). The highest selection of a Gamecock had been at 9th on three separate occasions: Mitchell (2016, Indiana), Jocelyn Penn (2003, Charlotte) and Shaunzinski Gortman (2002, Charlotte).