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South Carolina’s Alaina Coates will miss entire NCAA Tournament due to ankle injury

A difficult end to a stellar career.

NCAA Womens Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-South Carolina vs Mississippi State Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

If the South Carolina Gamecocks are to make a run to the Women’s Final Four this year, they’ll have to do it without senior center Alaina Coates. The team announced this morning that a nagging ankle injury will keep her out for the entire NCAA Tournament.

While the team has plenty of scoring in the person of A’ja Wilson, Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis, losing Coates for the entire tournament - which signals the end of a terrific career at South Carolina that will see her go down as one of the most dynamic front court talents in Gamecocks history - is a huge emotional blow. The team will now be forced to navigate the field without their senior leader on the court.

With Coates out, South Carolina will have to lean on other players a little harder. While Coates started in the SEC semifinal against Kentucky, she was out for the title game against Mississippi State (Ty Harris and Bianca Cuevas-Moore got the call as the team was forced to run a seven-player rotation). Kaela Davis has been dynamic over the past few games alongside Wilson and will be looked upon to continue her great run of play, while Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Donijah Cliney will be among those seeing big minutes off the bench in March.

It’s tough to see Coates’ great career end the way it did. But Gamecocks fans can take heart in the fact that they’ll likely get to see her in the professional ranks in the summer.