South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.

South Carolina, new coach Paris sign 5-star F Jackson

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — First-year South Carolina coach Lamont Paris has signed five-star recruit and one-time North Carolina commitment, Gregory “GG” Jackson.

The 6-foot-9, 210-pound Jackson was considered one of the top prospects for the 2023 recruiting class. But the school said he has reclassified to 2022 and will be eligible to play for the Gamecocks this season.

Jackson is from Columbia and played at Ridge View High. He has said he had a strong connection with former Gamecocks coach Frank Martin, who was dismissed from the program after 10 seasons this past March.

Soon after South Carolina hired Paris, the former Chattanooga coach, to take over, Jackson announced his commitment to the Tar Heels.

But Jackson decommitted from North Carolina this month before deciding on the Gamecocks.

Paris said in a statement that Jackson has a high basketball IQ.

“GG is a very high character individual and has an incredibly magnetic personality,” Paris said. “He will fit in perfectly with this group of young men.”

Jackson averaged 22.1 points, 10.9 points and 2.3 blocks a game his junior season last winter as Ridge View won a state championship.

Staley upset Gamecocks’ Aliyah Boston not invited to ESPYs

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s Dawn Staley has called out ESPN and its ESPY awards show for not inviting national player of the year Aliyah Boston to its ceremonies on Wednesday night.

Staley mused publicly on social media how the people who planning the ceremonies decided “it was a great idea not to invite” the woman who won several national awards as one of the best players in women’s college basketball last season.

“Not one person was able to see the uproar this would cause? There’s definitely something wrong with the make up of the room,” she said on Twitter.

Boston, a 6-foot-5 rising senior, captured the Wooden Award and AP honors as player of the year. She was also named Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four after the Gamecocks defeated Louisville and UConn on the way to the title.

Boston is nominated for “Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports,” with Florida State soccer player Jaelin Howell, Oklahoma softball player Jocelyn Alo and Boston College lacrosse star Charlotte North. The award is being given out on the ESPY’s Preview Show before the main broadcast.

ESPN and the ESPYs have “the utmost respect” for Boston, Staley, and the Gamecocks, according to a statement provided by ESPN Senior Director of Communications Jay Jay Nesheim. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions and a new venue with less seating capacity, organizers “prioritized athlete invitations to focus on specific awards that will be handed out during the broadcast.”

South Carolina women’s basketball spokeswoman Diana Koval said that as of Monday, Boston had not been invited. Staley had not planned to attend the ceremonies.

Aliyah Boston wins Honda Cup as top female college athlete

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 06 SEC Women's Tournament - South Carolina Gamecocks v Kentucky Wildcats
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LOS ANGELES – South Carolina basketball star Aliyah Boston was named the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year on Monday night.

She received the Honda Cup in a ceremony at Galen Center on the University of Southern California campus. Boston’s coach, Dawn Staley, won the award in 1991 as a basketball player at Virginia.

The junior forward is the first basketball player to win the award since Breanna Stewart in 2016. Overall, 16 basketball players have won the Honda Cup – the most of any sport.

“It means a lot. A lot of these women are my role models,” Boston said. “Coach Staley was a past winner. Candace Parker was my role model since I was nine years old.”

Boston helped South Carolina to its second national championship this past spring and was the AP women’s basketball Player of the Year.

The other finalists for the award were Oklahoma softball senior Jocelyn Alo and Florida gymnast Trinity Thomas.

“All these women on the stage help each sport they play,” Boston said.

The top three were selected by voting of nearly 1,000 NCAA member schools, and the winner was chosen by the Board of Directors of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program.

“The Honda Class of 2022 is truly an extraordinary group of women who have achieved notable accomplishments in their sports and in the classrooms across the nation,” said Chris Voelz, executive director of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards. “We are thrilled to have them join our elite family of the `best of the best.’

“To Aliyah Boston, this year’s Honda Cup winner, we commend and congratulate you on your remarkable achievements which led to your selection as the Cup winner and welcome you to this rare sisterhood, being named the very best female collegiate athlete in the nation.”

South Carolina, Staley honored with downtown parade

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Thousands of fans filled the streets of downtown Columbia for a celebration of South Carolina’s second women’s basketball national championship Wednesday.

The Gamecocks won the title with a 64-49 victory over UConn in Minneapolis on April 3.

Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley, her players and staff rode on cars, floats and trucks to South Carolina’s Statehouse where they were honored by officials. There were more than 60 vehicles in the parade.

Staley thanked her “FAMS,” who have helped the program once more lead the country at 12,268 fans per home game.

Staley, riding in a white convertible Rolls Royce, signed T-shirts and took selfies with people lined up along the route.

“How much you love us, really resonates with me,” she said at the podium.

Columbia Mayor Daniel J. Rickenmann and the city council proclaimed April as “South Carolina national championship” month.

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) told the team they would be honored at the White House in a few weeks. “You’ll be received by the president of the United States,” Clyburn said.

When the Gamecocks won the NCAA Tournament in 2017, a White House invitation didn’t come until months later, after South Carolina had started fall practice. Staley declined the invite, saying she was totally focused on the upcoming season.

Interim university President Harris Pastides called it the “Dawn of a new dynasty.”

He told the crowd to be proud of Staley, who “has done more for gender equity and for equality in women’s athletics than anyone in modern history.”

Staley closed by saying, “Let’s run it back” with another title next season as the fans cheered.

South Carolina reserves Russell, Wesolek to transfer

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Two South Carolina reserves in guards Eniya Russell and Elysa Wesolek have entered their names in the transfer portal Friday, less than a week after the Gamecocks celebrated a national championship.

Russell is a 6-foot-1 sophomore from Baltimore who was a McDonald’s All-American. But Russell never started a game in 49 appearances the past two years, largely coming in late when games were decided.

Russell averaged 7.7 minutes in 23 games this season, averaging 2.3 points.

She posted on social media that reaching a Final Four as a freshman and winning it all a year later with a 64-49 victory over UConn last Sunday night were memories that will never be forgotten. “With that being said, I will enter my name in the transfer portal to further pursue my basketball and educational aspirations and goals,” Russell said.

Wesolek is a 6-1 senior from Charleston. She played in 71 games over four seasons and also saw most of her action late in games.

Wesolek, like Russell, thanked the school, her coaches, teammates and fans. But she said she wanted to pursue her career goal to become a sports nutritionist and dietician at another school and play as a grad transfer.