COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A'ja Wilson and Allisha Gray were overcome with emotion on Saturday.
During the national championship ring ceremony which took place at halftime of Saturday's game between South Carolina and Vanderbilt, the reigning NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player and the 2017 WNBA Rookie of the Year could not believe their eyes when they opened their ring boxes to see the massive championship ring they earned.
"It was amazing," Wilson said when asked about seeing the ring for the first time. "I don't know. A bunch of things were just going through my head. Allisha and I were talking. 'Is it going to hit us? Is it finally going to hit us?' I don't know about Allisha, but it finally hit me just seeing finally, all of your hard work in one huge ring. So, to see it and just to be able to celebrate it with Gamecock Nation made it a lot more exciting."
The players and staff members from the 2016-17 received their ring from USC President Dr. Harris Pastides and USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner. For everyone except head coach Dawn Staley, it was their first time seeing the rings.
"I wanted them to experience it in this moment," said Staley. "And I knew it wouldn't disappoint. To see the tears in their eyes, to see them kind of rejoice on a dream they've had for a long time and to see some hardware go with it is quite incredible."
Gray said she had to hold back the tears when she saw the ring. Now that she has it, she definitely has plans for it.
"Oh yeah, I'm definitely showing this off," Gray said. "All this bling-bling on my finger. I'm showing this off."
Prior to the game, the team signed autographs in Gamecock Village.
The Gamecocks will open the regular season on Nov. 10 at home against Alabama State.