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South Carolina women's basketball: June Notebook

On3 imageby:Chris Wellbaum06/11/24


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UCLA announced that the Bruins will host South Carolina on November 24. Back on May 1, Dawn Staley confirmed this game would be on the schedule, but didn’t have a date yet. It is the return game for UCLA’s visit to Columbia in 2022.

When South Carolina played at Stanford in 2022 the Gamecocks also played at Cal-Poly, and Staley said that playing two games – even one against a lesser opponent – was necessary to make the trip work financially. Don’t be surprised if another game is added to the trip.

South Carolina’s confirmed nonconference opponents are Michigan (in Las Vegas on November 4), NC State (in Charlotte on November 10), at UCLA (November 24), at Memphis (another delayed return for a 2022 home game), at Clemson, hosting UConn, hosting Duke, and an ACC opponent to be determined. 

South Carolina has not confirmed the Maryland series will continue, but both coaches seem to want to keep playing. It also hasn’t been confirmed if ECU will visit Columbia this season in return for the game last season.

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Last week Geno Auriemma signed a five-year contract extension. What does that have to do with South Carolina (besides the rivalry with the Huskies)? There was a coaching spending spree in 2021 (it really began in 2020 when Vic Schaefer bolted for Texas, but everyone else followed a year later). 

That summer, Brenda Frese, Lisa Bluder, Adia Barnes, Teri Moren, Bill Fennelly, Yolett McPhee-McCuin, Joni Taylor, and Gary Blair all signed extensions that came with raises. At the top of the ladder, Auriemma, Kim Mulkey, and Staley all signed massive new contracts that reset the market (and traded the title of highest-paid coach).

Of those three, Staley is the only one who hasn’t signed an extension.  She’s also only lost three games in the last three years and has two national championships and an undefeated season. Now that Ray Tanner has taken care of a few other pressing matters, it’s a safe bet that an extension and raise for Staley are next.

Mulkey signed a 10-year, $36 million extension last fall (an average of $3.6 million per year). Auriemma’s extension is worth $18.7 million (an average of $3.7 million per year). Staley is entering year four of a seven-year, $22.4 million deal (an average of $3.2 million per year).

As A’ja Wilson said, “Every time I see Coach I feel poor.”

Other coaches
Former Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy was hired as an assistant at Duke. She and Kara Lawson were teammates at Tennessee. Elzy is known as a strong recruiter.

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This and that
Tessa Johnson threw out the first pitch at a Minnesota Twins game on May 28. The pitch was high.

Sania Feagin has new NIL representation. She signed with On Time Agency Group.

Raven Johnson will be honored at the “Spirit of the League Awards Luncheon” on June 26 in Atlanta. The event is part of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta’s Juneteenth celebrations. Tickets and additional information are available at the Urban League’s website.

On June 4, Mitchell & Ness hosted Staleyat the flagship store in Philadelphia for a meet and greet to help launch their line of 2004 USA Women’s USA Basketball Olympic jerseys. They weren’t prepared for the turnout. Fans took off work to stand in a line that stretched around the block, and one fan even flew in from Dallas for the event.

Chloe Kitts held her first basketball camp last week in Oviedo, FL. She has two more scheduled. One is on August 3 in Puyallup, WA, and the other is a day later in Milwaukie, OR. That’s Tacoma and Portland for those of us who have never been to the Pacific Northwest. Kitts lived in Puyallup before moving to Florida. 

Lastly, Joyce Edwards repeated as the MaxPreps Female Athlete of the Year. She is just the third athlete to repeat. The award is for all sports, not just basketball. 

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