The Chicago Sky picked Alaina Coates second overall in the 2017 WNBA Draft. Coates, despite missing the NCAA Tournament with an ankle injury, came off the board after Kelsey Plum was taken by San Antonio with the draft’s first overall pick.
2016-17 stats: 28 GP, 27 GS, 12.9 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.3 bpg - 65.1 FT%, 67.0 FG%
Career stats: 133 GP, 66 GS, 12.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.6 bpg - 64.1 FT%, 62.0 FG%
Summary: It goes without saying Alaina Coates isn’t just one of the best post players in the history of the South Carolina Gamecocks, she might be one of the best posts in the history of the SEC. She leaves SC as the school’s all-time leading rebounder and the SEC’s all-time leading rebounder as well as a career leader for both SC and the SEC in double-doubles.
During her time with the Gamecocks, Coates was a major contributor from day one, providing 12.1 ppg off the bench as the SEC’s co-sixth player of the year and freshman of the year. Even behind Elem Ibiam in 2014-15 as a sophomore, Coates still averaged 11.1 ppg/7.9 rpg to be named second-team All-SEC and all-defensive team.
As a starter, she became a double-double force alongside Aj’a Wilson to help South Carolina win the SEC regular season and tournament in 2016 and 2017. Unfortunately for her, she suffered an ankle injury against Missouri on February 19 that forced her to miss the entire 2017 SEC tournament and NCAA tournament.
Despite her time missed at the end of her career, Coates will leave SC as one of the winningest and most productive players in school history. Even if Wilson eventually passes her as “best post in school history”, No. 2 isn’t a bad place to be during the golden era of South Carolina women’s basketball.
Strengths: Coates is an elite rebounder; she boxes out opponents on the defensive end and can just as easily create an extra possession on the offensive end with a board. Coates is a smart shot taker and is a good decision maker out of the post. She doubles as an equally smart defender who doesn’t get caught up in switches and can guard multiple positions.
Weaknesses: As good as an on-ball defender as she is, Coates isn’t an extraordinary shot-blocker for her position or size. She doesn’t possess the elite post moves to be a constant threat in the post. A concern could be that even while she was out for the last 12 games, SC was able to roll off two separate championship runs.