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USC Gamecocks ranked number one in women's basketball preseason poll

The Gamecocks bring back 11 players from a squad that came one game shy of reaching the national title game.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina women's basketball team is ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason women’s basketball poll for the second consecutive season.

The Gamecocks got 14 out of the 29 first place ballots. 

“With who we brought back and who added for this season, we knew we would start out among the hunted, and it’s something that our program is getting used to,” said Staley, who is going into her 14th season as South Carolina coach. “Watching practice every day, I can see that we have the pieces and the competitive fire to reach all of our goals. We have a few more weeks to put those pieces together into a cohesive, successful team that can live up to this preseason ranking.”

The Gamecocks are hoping to claim their second national title after not getting to seek one in 2020 due to COVID and losing a heartbreaker in the Final Four last season. It was the Gamecocks' third appearance in the Final Four since 2016. 

USC finished last season 26-5 and won the SEC women's tournament title. And there's room for great optimism this year as they return all 11 players from last year's unit, including First-Team All-American Aliyah Boston. They also added the number one signing class in the nation to that group. 

The news of the preseason top ranking comes days after South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley was rewarded with a new 7-year, $22.4 million contract for what she's done with the program.  

RELATED: Dawn Staley gets big raise with new 7-year, $22.4 million contract

Staley's team has also been picked to win the 2022 Southeastern Conference women's basketball title. It marks the sixth time in the last eight seasons the group has predicted the Gamecocks as regular-season champion. The media named juniors Aliyah Boston and Zia Cooke Preseason All-SEC.

The 2021-22 Gamecocks officially open the season on the road at AP Preseason No. 5 NC State. The schedule includes up to 11 games against eight teams who are in the poll.

UConn was No. 2. Defending national champion Stanford was third, while Maryland and North Carolina State round out the top five. Two Big Ten teams have their best preseason ranking ever: Indiana is No. 8 and Michigan is No. 11.

There is excitement in Iowa, too: Iowa is ranked ninth and Iowa State is 12th.


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