COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley achieved the highest honor of her career tonight as she joined basketball luminaries with her enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Of the now 337 inductees to the Hall of Fame, Staley is one of just 27 individual women to be enshrined and just the 15th female player to go in on her individual merits.
Joining Staley in the Class of 2013 are: nine-time NBA All-Star Gary Payton, seven-time NCAA Final Four coach Rick Pitino, five-time NCAA Final Four coach Guy Lewis, four-time NBA All-Start Bernard King, four-time NCAA Final Four coach Jerry Tarkanian, three-time National Coach of the Year Sylvia Hatchell, Roger Brown, Dr. E.B. Henderson, Oscar Schmidt, Richard Guerin and Russ Granik.
Staley is synonymous with women’s basketball excellence in an era that launched two professional leagues in the United States, including the WNBA. After earning USA Today National High School Player of the Year honors, she went on to a stellar career at the University of Virginia. A three-time Kodak All-American, Staley was the Sports IllustratedPlayer of the Year and won the Honda-Broderick Cup Award for Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year in 1991 after leading her Cavaliers to the national championship game. She played in three NCAA Final Fours and was twice the ACC Player of the Year. She is the only player in women’s college basketball history to record 2,000 points, 700 assists and 400 steals.
On the international stage, Staley continued to excel and has been part of the United States’ last four Olympic gold medals – three as a player (1996, 2000, 2004) and one as an assistant coach (2008). Twice named USA Basketball’s Female Athlete of the Year (1994, 2004), she was selected by her fellow Olympians from all sports to carry the flag in the 2004 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.