When choosing where she would play college ball, Kaela Davis knew she wanted to win somewhere that hadn’t won before. After spending two seasons with Georgia Tech, she transferred to South Carolina, where the incredible run began.
With this year’s NCAA tournament underway, we sat down with the now-Dallas Wings guard and discussed what winning a national championship for South Carolina meant, how it felt for her, and everyone involved in the process.
By Kaela Davis, as told to WNBA.com
I wanted to do something special that hadn’t been done before.
So I transferred to South Carolina after playing two years at Georgia Tech. South Carolina’s coaching staff was obviously great, the fans were passionate, and just knowing what was brewing in Columbia, I had to be part of it if I could. I knew it was something special.
South Carolina just has this…something. It’s hard to describe, really. But being there, it just has a way of bringing people together and creating this family. Not just a group of girls playing basketball, but a true family. When you feel like you’re playing for and with your family, everything comes so much more naturally.
It was an honor to have a coach like Dawn Staley. She finds what works best for herself and the player, and meshes it together. Coach Staley is such a people person but understands the game inside and out, so she can put the two together, which makes her so successful. She was a huge reason why we went all the way last year.
The stakes are a lot higher in March, and you find out the most about your team during the tournament.
Once you know you could potentially lose something or some type of consequence comes into play, your natural instincts to just, do better, kick in. Everything intensifies, your focus is deeper, and all these ‘what-if’ situations go out the window. There’s something great to be accomplished. I know for us, our practices got more intense, we had a group of guys we played against, and we made it a point to do everything we could to beat them. Film sessions got much quieter. Scouting reports were in our heads like the song you can’t get rid of. The details became bold printed, and you just run a little faster and push a little harder.
Moral of the story, the stakes are a lot higher. And to win it for South Carolina was better than I ever could have imagined it.
Winning a national championship for South Carolina was so much bigger than just the school. I felt like it was a state-wide thing. Our fans are unmatched, and I mean statistically but personally as well. They’re people that let you influence their kids, and want to see you do well all the time. There’s nothing like Gamecock fans.
During our championship run, I felt like the “Davis” on my back was for my whole family.
I had my family at the Final Four. Getting to experience that with them, I felt like I did something for my whole family. My dad played college ball and my brother does too, so for them to be there, it meant a lot. It was an experience I’ll cherish forever.