November 17, 2020 

Coaches pick South Carolina to win the SEC

Poll also favors Kentucky's Rhyne Howard for conference Player of Year

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Rhyne Howard. (courtesy of Kentucky Athletics)

All eyes remain on the South Carolina Gamecocks as the 2020-21 Southeastern Conference season begins.

In no surprise, the team was predicted to win the 2021 SEC women’s basketball championship in a vote of the league’s coaches released Tuesday.

The Dawn Staley-led Gamecocks “finished” last season ranked No. 1 with a 32-1 record, the nation’s longest win streak at 26 consecutive games and as one of the favorites to win an NCAA championship when the coronavirus hit.

The opportunity to claim that crown was stopped, leaving the Gamecocks entering this season with unfinished business on their minds, ready to pick up where they left off.

South Carolina tops the order of finish, with Kentucky, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Tennessee and LSU rounding out the top half the league. Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Ole Miss, Florida, Vanderbilt and Auburn round out the bottom half.

The Gamecocks feature three returning starters from last season’s SEC regular-season and tournament champion. They were voted Associated Press preseason No. 1 and now sit for the 11th-straight week in that position after ending the abbreviated 2019-20 season atop the poll.

Nearly 70 percent of the team’s scoring and more than 65 percent of its rebounding from last year is back for 2020-21.

In other SEC news, Rhyne Howard of the Kentucky Wildcats was voted as SEC Women’s Basketball Preseason Player of the Year. South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston also received votes.

Joining Howard and Boston on the All-SEC Preseason First Team are Chelsea Dungee, Arkansas; Unique Thompson, Auburn; Khayla Pointer, LSU; Rickea Jackson, Mississippi State; Rennia Davis, Tennessee; and N’dea Jones, Texas A&M.

The Preseason Second Team All-SEC features Jasmine Walker, Alabama; Destiny Slocum, Arkansas; Lavender Briggs, Florida; Shakira Austin, Ole Miss; Jessika Carter, Mississippi State; Aijha Blackwell, Missouri; Zia Cooke, South Carolina; and Kayla Wells, Texas A&M.

Coaches cannot vote for their own team or players and ties are not broken.

The 2020-21 season officially tips on Wednesday, November 25.

Written by Dorothy J. Gentry

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