Dawn Staley, Coach Of The Year

Dawn Staley And South Carolina Keep Winning

Coach Dawn Staley picked up a $50,000 bonus.

Dawn Staley, arguably the best coach in women’s basketball, picked up a $50,000 bonus for guiding her undefeated South Carolina team to the Elite Eight in the women’s NCAA basketball tournament. So far this season, Staley, who got a $22 million bag from the university in 2020, has earned $240,000 in various performance bonuses. 

As On3 reports, Staley and her team earned the Elite Eight payday. Following two huge blowout wins, they faced their most difficult test so far in the tournament. The University of Indiana, led by Sydney Parrish, battled back from a 22-point deficit in the second half to cut South Carolina’s lead to three points.

Raven Johnson, whose much-improved three-point stroke is emblematic of the difference between South Carolina’s 2022-2023 team and this version, answered the call with a huge three with a little over a minute left in the game. 

Down low, South Carolina’s center Kamilla Cardoso was a dominant presence, something Staley told reporters after the game. “Dominant. Like I haven’t seen her play like that in a long time, meaning she imposed her will, her strength, she used her body. She used her determination to put us on her back and carry us over the finish line.”

Staley was also impressed with Johnson’s moxie, telling the Associated Press, “I saw Raven’s eyes coming down the stretch as our lead was diminishing, and I knew she wasn’t going to let us lose. She was going to do something. She had two big baskets.”

Johnson, meanwhile, continues to be fueled by the disrespect she was shown by Iowa and Caitlin Clark, who sagged off Johnson when she was at the three-point line during their matchup in 2023’s tournament. 

“I was open, and all I could think was, let it go. I don’t want to lose,” Johnson said. “Just going from last year. Nobody can sag off me this year, and I take that very personal. And I get in the gym every day and put up reps and I think that’s where it comes from, the confidence.”

The Gamecocks won that contest 79-75.

As The Athletic reports, Staley is winning off the hardwood, too. 

Her prolific career at the University of Virginia landed her a selection to the 1996 Olympic national women’s basketball team. That team, in turn, paved the way for the launch of the WNBA in 1997. Staley has been a consistent presence in basketball and a central figure in the evolution of the women’s game over the last 20 years. 

It is this history and these accomplishments that have earned her a feature-length documentary focusing on her as an illustration of just how rapidly the women’s game has grown. 

Staley released a statement to The Athletic detailing her belief that women’s basketball deserved its own historical documentation. 

“Women’s basketball has not been historically documented for future generations,” Staley said. “However, following discussions with Thomas Tull and the Words+Pictures team, I became convinced that their narrative approach and objectives aligned ideally with the creation of a landmark historical piece on women’s basketball.”

Kristen Lappas, one of the directors of the yet-to-be-titled film and the director of Giannis: The Marvelous Journey, told the outlet what makes Staley the perfect vehicle for such a documentary. “Nobody’s career and personal life has followed the trajectory of the evolution of women’s basketball in the same way as Dawn’s has. You can basically tell the story of women’s basketball via a focused lens through the career and life of Dawn Staley and how she impacted the game.”

The documentary is filming through December 2024 and includes a trip to Philadelphia, where Staley is from. It is targeted for a spring 2025 release and will reportedly feature conversations with 30 people, including fellow Hall of Famers Nancy Lieberman and Lisa Leslie, as well as current women’s basketball star and freshman phenom at the University of Southern California JuJu Watkins.

RELATED CONTENT: Another One! Dawn Staley Again Named USBWA National Coach Of The Year