COLUMBIA, S.C. – For the third straight season, South Carolina is at the top of the Associated Press Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll. It marks the seventh time in the last nine seasons that the Gamecocks earned a top-five preseason ranking, including the 2021-22 season which same that hold the spot for the entire season en route to their second National Championship.

South Carolina returns four of its five starters among its 10 returning letterwinners from the 2022 title team, and head coach Dawn Staley added a pair of top-20 signees in Ashlyn Watkins (No. 12) and Talaysia Cooper (No. 18) to this season’s roster, along with Georgia Tech transfer Kierra Fletcher. The 2022-23 season is the senior season for Staley’s first-ever No. 1 ranked signing class, headlined by 2022 National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston and two-time All-SEC and honorable mention All-America guard Zia Cooke. Stalwart defender Brea Beal, versatile forward Laeticia Amihere and local favorite Olivia Thompson are also part of that Class of 2019 signing class.

Fifth-year senior Victaria Saxton returned for her extra season of eligibility to shore up the Gamecocks’ dominant frontcourt, which also features a more dominant Kamilla Cardoso. Sophomores Sania Feagin (forward) and Bree Hall (guard) look to make their mark more regularly in their season season, and redshirt freshman Raven Johnson will battle Fletcher to take over the point guard position left vacant by WNBA draft pick Destanni Henderson.

Staley’s program achievements include two National Championships, six SEC regular-season titles, including in 2022, and six SEC Tournament crowns. Her team has been No. 1 in the AP 33 times in the last three seasons (2019-20 preseason-current), more than three times as many weeks as second place on the list (Stanford, nine). The Gamecocks have been in the AP top five for a nation-leading 52 of the 57 polls in that same time period.

South Carolina will host an exhibition game against Benedict on Mon., Oct. 31, prior to officially opening the 2022-23 season on Mon., Nov. 7, against ETSU at Colonial Life Arena.