Over a dozen Gamecocks on WNBA training camp rosters. Here’s how it works, what’s next

Fear not, women’s basketball fans. South Carolina’s national championship season may be over, but the WNBA’s 28th season is practically here.

WNBA training camp started Sunday, and 14 former Gamecocks are on various rosters throughout the league. This includes 2024 national champion Kamilla Cardoso (drafted with the third overall pick by the Chicago Sky) as well as Naismith National Players of the Year Aliyah Boston (taken No. 1 overall by the Indiana Fever in 2023) and A’ja Wilson (USC’s first No. 1 overall pick, selected by the Las Vegas Aces in 2018). Only UConn (17) has more.

Wilson headlines the slew of USC alumni in the league. She is a two-time WNBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and WNBA champion, helping the Aces win back-to-back titles in 2022 and 2023. Wilson also won Finals MVP in 2023. She has been an All-Star five times in six seasons and was unanimously named the 2018 Rookie of the Year.

Boston was last season’s top rookie, winning the same award as Wilson also unanimously. She was an All-Star alongside fellow Gamecocks Wilson and Allisha Gray, becoming the eighth rookie player to start in the All-Star Game and first since Shoni Schimmel in 2014. Boston ended the regular season as the first rookie to lead the league in field goal percentage (57.8%). She ranks second all-time for most rebounds in a rookie season (335) and third for most field goals made as a first-year player (223).

Cardoso is set to make her WNBA debut this season, following the path of dominant USC bigs before her. She is fresh off a national championship with South Carolina and was named the SEC’s 2024 Defensive Player of the Year.

Here’s a guide to how WNBA training camp works and keeping tabs on former Gamecocks in the league:

South Carolina WBB alumni at WNBA training camp

Below is an alphabetical list of former Gamecocks on training camp rosters:

Who goes to WNBA training camp?

Current players (like Boston, Wilson and Gray), 2024 WNBA draftees (like Cardoso) and others who are given training camp contracts (like Destanni Henderson) joined their respective teams this weekend. The WNBA only has 144 total roster spots (12 players per team in a 12 team league), so everyone is competing for an opportunity over the next couple weeks.

How do cuts work?

Teams can have up to 18 players on their training camp rosters but must whittle that down to 12 by the start of the regular season, which is May 14.

If a player gets cut, however, it doesn’t mean they won’t be able to play professional basketball this year. They could sign with another team in they league or join an overseas league. There are also hardship contracts, which can pop up throughout the season.

A hardship contract is an emergency contract offered by teams with fewer than 11 players available to play due to illness or injury that don’t count toward the 12-person limit. To ensure franchises are always able to field a team, they can’t be under 11 available players at any given time. If someone can’t play, a team is given 72-hour window to sign someone else. That’s how Alaina Coates landed with the Aces last season after Candace Parker injured her foot. Coates, and fellow former Gamecock Kaela Davis, has since signed a training camp contract with the Seattle Storm.

USC alum Laeticia Amihere (Atlanta Dream forward) provided a simple explanation of how cuts work in a TikTok earlier this month: “Basically everybody has to try out. ... There are so many reasons somebody can get cut, like fit or chemistry.”

When does the 2024 WNBA season start?

The WNBA preseason begins May 3, with Wilson and the Las Vegas Aces playing the Puerto Rican National Team at Colonial Life Arena on May 11. The regular season tips off May 14.