It’s time, Gamecock Nation.
It’s time to call it like it is and face the facts. There’s no more denying the elephant in the room and the events of Monday night have only strengthened the fact that it’s no longer possible to avoid having this conversation.
It’ll be tough, people will laugh, people won’t understand, but we’re Gamecocks, so we’re used to it.
So let’s admit it to ourselves and admit it to the world. I’ll even get the ball rolling and start the dialogue right here and now:
THE 2019 GAMECOCK WOMEN’S BASKETBALL RECRUITING CLASS IS THE FEMALE FAB 5!
There, it’s been said, it’s out in the open, and the dialogue has started.
Now doesn’t that feel better? What started out as careful optimism and reserved excitement can now become what it deserves to be.
It’s time to shout it from the rooftops and boast to the high heavens, this group of girls is the future of South Carolina basketball and what a glorious future it will be.
But let’s not just brag to brag, there’s facts and stats to back up this claim as well.
For those too young to remember, the Fab Five was a notorious pairing of five freshman at the University of Michigan in 1991 that changed the game, the way it was played and even the way you dressed when playing the game.
'Froback Friday! Michigan's Fab Five (Ray Jackson, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King). You know, back before "One and Done" and before there was money in the game. Back when it was pure. pic.twitter.com/zDloNiett7— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) April 27, 2018
The five freshman, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson, and Juwan Howard, would become the first group of freshman to comprise a full starting lineup in NCAA history and in their time together would lead the Wolverines to two straight NCAA runner ups before Webber would forego his junior year and head to the NBA.
They would make up the #1 recruiting class that year as they would be ranked respectively, 5, 1, 9, 84, and 3.
In their freshman campaign the group would average 58.7 PPG and go 25-9. The leading scorer of the five that year was Jalen Rose who averaged 17.6 PPG at the Forward position.
These 5 freshman had the whole nation talking and were virtually unstoppable.
Flash forward 28 years later and here we are.
Dawn Staley’s fabulous freshman are the talk of the nation and look like the boulder from Indiana Jones crushing every opponent that gets in their way, averaging a scoring margin of 26.5 points. Dawn’s group has now played 25 games and amassed a 24-1 record, with the leading scorer being forward Aliyah Boston (13.1 PPG).
To compare, at this point in 1992, the Fab Five had just completed their second game where all five were full time starters, and had won three in a row to move to 15-5.
Their average margin of victory was 9.4 points and Jalen was the leading scorer at 15.8 PPG, only 2.7 PPG more than Boston.
The two teams are very similar in respect that both squads had four of the top 11 recruits in the country and that combined all five freshman for both squads averaged at least 39.3 PPG.
Staley’s team isn’t just stacking up with the Fab Five either.
Before 2019, arguably the best recruiting class ever was the 2012 recruiting class Geno Auriemma put together for UCONN.
It included three freshman who were all five star players in the top 15. Breanna Stewart (#1), Moriah Jefferson (#2), and Morgan Tuck (#15) would make up a freshman class that would go on to win four consecutive national titles and start one of the greatest streak of winning in all of sports.
If you compare the numbers of the three UCONN freshman to just the SC Freshman who collect the most minutes, the comparison is very similar.
SC’s freshman average 32.1 and UCONN’s averaged 24.6, where SC is 24-1, UCONN was 23-1.
Margin of victory? 26.5 to 36.9.
Also, South Carolina has gone 9-1 against ranked opponents and UCONN went 8-1.
Eerily similar and very inspiring.
In 2012 Geno brought in three 5-star players and built the final piece of his legacy, seven years later Dawn brought in a recruiting class with four 5-stars and is about to cement her’s if what we all hope comes to fruition.
Gamecocks, we’ve had our struggles and we’ve had our moments where we got our hopes up and fell on our faces before our optimism became reality.
As Gamecocks that almost seems like just part of the job that is being a fan of this great university.
But when you watch the product that Dawn Staley has put in front of us, when you see the foundation she has laid, when you stand in Colonial Life Arena with 17,999 other loyal Gamecocks and watch this team manhandle a Geno Auriemma led team for four complete quarters, it’s just a whole different feeling.
It feels like a long awaited rainstorm when your crops have been dying in decades long drought, like coming home and seeing your mom for the first time in years, it feels every bit like it should.
It feels GLORIOUS. Dawn Staley has put together the female Fab Five, the best recruiting class to ever be assembled and we have every right to get our hopes up.
We can close our eyes and picture the nets being cut down in New Orleans as Dawn Staley stands atop the ladder, fist in the air waving the net for the world to see.
We can imagine that and we can talk about that. We’ve earned it and we have all the pieces to make it a reality.
We have a senior point guard who is up for NCAA POY consideration, the almost undisputed, soon-to-be, SEC Freshman of the Year and without a single doubt in anybody’s mind the soon-to-be SEC and NCAA Coach of the Year.
So get excited. We may be already 25 games into the season, but the fun is only getting started in Columbia, SC.
And you’re gonna wanna be apart of this to tell your kids about it down the road, when they ask you, “What was it like watching the Women’s Basketball Fab Five play?”
It was the greatest kids. The absolute greatest.