COLUMBIA, S.C. – For the second time in as many seasons, South Carolina women’s basketball earned the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press Preseason Poll. It marks the sixth time the last eight seasons that South Carolina earned a top-five preseason ranking.

Head coach Dawn Staley returns all 11 players from last season’s NCAA Final Four squad and added the No. 1 signing class in the nation to that roster. Five seniors lead the experienced group, and the 2019 signing class, which was also ranked best in the nation, enters its third season in the Garnet and Black. To that veteran squad, South Carolina welcomes transfer Kamilla Cardoso, who is the reigning ACC Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year and four freshmen who were the Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 14 signees in the 2021 class.

Among the Gamecock returners is unanimous First-Team All-American Aliyah Boston and honorable mention All-American Zia Cooke – last season’s leading rebounder and scorer, respectively. Senior Destanni Henderson led the SEC in assists per game and earned a spot on the SEC All-Tournament team. Senior Victaria Saxton and junior Laeticia Amihere were dominant in the postseason, capturing spots on the NCAA Hemisfair Region All-Tournament Team.

South Carolina has been ranked in every AP Poll since Dec. 10, 2012 (169 polls), including the last 37 in the top 10. This preseason entry puts the Gamecocks at No. 1 for the 14th time in the last three seasons and the 25th time in the Dawn Staley era.

The 2021-22 Gamecocks officially open the season on the road at AP Preseason No. 5 NC State. The schedule includes up to 11 games against eight teams who are in today’s poll as well.