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UNC women’s basketball team debuts in Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship hasn’t even been over 48 hours yet, but we’re already looking ahead to next season.

South Carolina truly showed it’s among the sport’s elite programs, winning its third national championship since 2019 by distancing itself from Caitlin-Clark-led Iowa late. What made this feat all-the-more impressive was the Gamecocks replacing all five starters from a season ago, including 2023 WNBA Draft top overall pick Aaliyah Boston.

Clark will likely be joining her former opponent on the Indiana Fever next year, as barring something drastic, she’ll be going Number One overall.

Speaking of next year, South Carolina leads off ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings.

The real Carolina, North Carolina, is also part of the rankings at 14th.

“Lexi Donarski, Alyssa Ustby and Deja Kelly are not on the WNBA draft list, but they have not officially announced their intentions to return to Chapel Hill,” ESPN’s Charlie Creme said. “If they do, (UNC head coach) Courtney Banghart might have her most talented group at North Carolina. Five-star recruits 6-5 Blanca Thomas and 6-4 Ciera Toomey, who redshirted this year, are set to join the active roster and join 6-3 Maria Gakdeng on the front line. Lanie Grant, a 5-10 point guard who is the Virginia state player of the year, reclassified from the Class of 2025 to join the Tar Heels next season.”

It’s worth noting that on Monday, April 8, Kelly shocked Tar Heel Nation by entering her name in the transfer portal. She’s shined ever since stepping on campus, but maybe she just wants to test the waters.

Even if Kelly decides not to return, UNC is plenty loaded.

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Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire