COLUMBIA, S.C. – National Champion South Carolina women’s basketball is one of seven teams across professional, Olympic and college sports nominated for Best Team at the 2017 ESPYS Presented by Capital One, ESPN announced today. The ultimate winner of the category will be determined by fan voting (http://www.espn.com/espys/story/_/page/voting17/best-team) and revealed at the ESPYS, hosted by Peyton Manning at the Microsoft Theater in Downtown Los Angeles on Wed., July 12.
Just one of two college teams on the list, the Gamecocks claimed their first NCAA national championship in 2017 after topping SEC-rival Mississippi State in the title game. It was the third trophy South Carolina brought home in the 2016-17 season, which included the program’s fourth-straight SEC regular-season championship and third-straight SEC Tournament title. The Gamecocks are one of just two programs in league history to put together either such streak.
South Carolina joins the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team as the only female entries on the seven-team list, which also includes the Chicago Cubs, Clemson Football, the Golden State Warriors, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New England Patriots.
The Clemson team has been nominated for the categories, “Best Team” and “Best Upset”.
Clemson’s win over an Alabama team that had won 26 consecutive games is a finalist for “Best Upset” with Mississippi State’s NCAA Tournament win over UCONN and Denis Istomin’s Australian Open win over Novak Djokovic.
Watson has been nominated for “Best Championship Game Performance” and “Best Male College Athlete”. Other candidates for championship game performance are Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, Shay Knighten of Oklahoma in the Women’s College World Series, and Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Championship series.
Other candidates for the top male college athlete are Ian Harkes, Wake Forest soccer, Frank Mason, Kansas college basketball, Matt Rambo, Maryland lacrosse and Zain Retherford, Penn State wrestling.
Clemson won the National Championship this year with a 14-1 record, tying the FBS mark for wins in a season. Clemson won the title despite playing the nation’s toughest schedule according to the NCAA, just the sixth time since 1977 that a national champion played the most difficult schedule. Clemson had wins over the No. 3, 2 and 1 teams in the nation and beat six teams that finished the season in the top 25.
Watson completed 36-56 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns against Alabama’s No. 1 ranked defense. He also rushed for 43 yards and a score. He completed a two-yard scoring pass to Hunter Renfrow with one second left to give Clemson a 35-31 win over an Alabama team that had won 26 in a row and had been ranked No. 1 nationally all season.
Voting is underway now for each category’s winner and concludes at the beginning of the live show on Wed., July 12, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.