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Gamecock women collect more conference honors

Dawn Staley’s crew was well-represented in the SEC’s awards.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Tennessee at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

With the regular season over and the SEC Tournament set to begin later this week, awards season has officially begun for the South Carolina Gamecock women, who were well-represented in the conference’s annual honors.

Junior forward and star Aliyah Boston was named SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year — the latter of which being a distinction that she has won throughout the entirety of her career. Dawn Staley was tabbed Coach of the Year, and senior guard Destanni Henderson joined Boston on the league’s first-team all-SEC performers while junior guard Zia Cooke nabbed a spot on the second team.

Boston, widely considered the favorite to earn national player of the year honors as well, is averaging 16.8 points and 11.9 rebounds per game and crossed the 1,000-point mark earlier this season while also racking up an SEC-best 20 consecutive double-doubles. Nationally, she’s second in double-doubles, sixth in rebounds per game, and 10th in blocks per game (2.7).

Staley, who was granted this honor for the fifth time in her tenure with the Gamecocks, led South Carolina to a 27-1 record and steady No. 1 national ranking this season. USC has a nation-best 11 wins over ranked opponents and wrapped up its sixth SEC regular-season title along the way.

Henderson, who was previously honored on the SEC’s all-freshman team in 2019, is averaging 11.7 points per game, good for second on the USC roster, and is leading the Gamecocks in 3-point percentage (40%) while closing in on the program’s top 10 list in career assists. Cooke is just behind Henderson with 11.5 points per game, and logged 19 double-figure scoring games this season.