What’s old is new again in the world of collegiate women’s basketball.

Dawn Staley and her USC Gamecocks are once again SEC women’s basketball champions. What has made this accomplishment so special is that Staley began this season with a whole new starting five. The five starters that she had last year, she lost to the WNBA. That’s right, she had a whole starting lineup drafted by the WNBA for this past season. If that isn’t an impressive coaching feat, I don’t know what is. Wait a minute… yes I do! Staley’s Gamecocks once again had an undefeated season, its second in two seasons. This is pretty damn impressive if you ask me, and it should be big talk in the sports world.

Many of my pieces in recent months have spoken to the rise in equity among Black women in heavily visible roles. We’re seeing it in the media, as well as in the coaching ranks in the NBA. For instance, Lisa Leslie has been a head coach in Ice Cube’s Big 3 basketball league. And then there’s the incomparable Teresa Weatherspoon, formerly of my New York Liberty. She’s an assistant coach with the New Orleans Pelicans. What I’m getting at though is just how much of a dynamic coach Staley has shown herself to be. I no longer want to view her simply in the lexicon of collegiate coaches, and you shouldn’t either.

Photo: Eakin Howard via Getty Images

After two undefeated seasons, one might wonder, “What would be next for Staley?” I know I’d love to see her coach pros one day. Fox Sports reported that in 2023 Staley said, “I don’t want to coach in the men’s game.” So, maybe that’s a selfish pipedream of mine. However, how cool would it be to see Staley working the sidelines of a WNBA game? With 15 years under her belt at USC and a 402-106 record, you’d think maybe she’s seeking the next challenge.

What Staley is instilling in these young women is amazing. Most times, players respond to their coach with their good play. It’s a clear indicator that a coach’s message is getting through. But to have full lineups of your players drafted to the pros from the same year is remarkable. I haven’t seen such a thing before. But with the amount of continuous winning, you know that USC’s success isn’t only predicated on talent. There is a philosophy that everyone in the Gamecock’s locker room embraces. There is an edge and moxy that they play with, and for the last few seasons, very few if not any have been able to crack the code.

I’m inspired by what I’ve seen from the Gamecocks over the past couple of years. It’s another great addition to the amazing stories that are happening in women’s basketball right now. With stellar and aggressive play, this continues to make women’s basketball must-see television. But that is a story for later this week. As for now, I want to take a moment to salute the greatness of head coach Dawn Staley. She’s a compassionate Black leader who is changing our community in her own way.