April 9, 2024 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: How Dawn Staley impacts South Carolina and the world

Unpacking South Carolina's remarkable undefeated season

For our 1,000th episode of Locked On Women’s Basketball, The Next‘s HBCU beat reporter Rob Knox joins host Howard Megdal to talk about South Carolina’s championship and the impact of head coach Dawn Staley. First, they discussed how it felt to experience the Final Four and South Carolina’s win. Knox followed the team throughout the weekend, and reflected on the atmosphere around covering the Gamecocks in Cleveland:

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“My goal was to try to humanize the South Carolina players, to try to find nuggets about the players that maybe people don’t know,” Knox said. “Obviously, the Columbia media, the media that covers South South Carolina on a regular basis, day in and day out, they do an awesome job and I love the fact that [public relations director Diana Koval] gives them access. As a reporter, accesses [to] things that we need, that enables us to really tell quality stories and build trust and just build so many things. And this past week, being able to write about Tessa Johnson on Thursday, and then obviously see her have the game she had on Sunday was, you know, it’s gives me chills.”

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Then, they took time to discuss how Staley’s understanding of her position and influence is reflected in her media appearances and her actions. In particular, they focused on Staley’s willingness to bring others with her, even during her biggest moments:

“When she’s out there, celebrating with her team, the first Black head coach to have an undefeated team,” Knox said. “I’m sitting [at the postgame press conference] and first thing she says is ‘Caitlin Clark, thank you for lifting up our game. Thank you, you are the goat.’ I mean, just to take that moment and again, [give] that piece of it.”

“Throughout the year, reporting on the SWAC and the MEAC, when I spoke with Jackson State head coach Tomekia Reed, she mentioned that she got a note from Dawn Staley, when Jackson State had received a vote in the [AP] Top 25 poll, right. So again, for Dawn to take time on her schedule to acknowledge that and do that, I’m just like, man, she is just amazing. And I’m lucky from the standpoint of I grew up watching Dawn Staley. I followed her life, I followed her career with you know, she’s a few years older than I am, and we’ve been in a lot of the same spaces.”

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Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

Knox and Megdal also discussed South Carolina’s depth down the bench, and how their relatively young team remains poised for success in the coming seasons. They also talked about Staley and the Gamecocks’ undefeated season in context, and how it fits into the greater story of women’s basketball. Make sure to subscribe to the Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast to keep learning about the WNBA, women’s college basketball, basketball history and much more!

Written by The Next

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