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Kamilla Cardoso

Kamilla Cardoso helps South Carolina win title

Kamilla Cardoso earns Most Outstanding Player award

South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso cut a piece of the basketball net after winning the NCAA Women’s Basketball title and then lifted the strand triumphantly Sunday afternoon. With a tender smile, she turned to her right and then shifted slowly toward her left to let all the photographers document the moment at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

Cardoso was all smiles after helping No. 1 South Carolina complete a perfect season with an 87-75 victory over Iowa in the national championship game.

The Brazilian center was too much for the University of Iowa and Caitlin Clark, women’s basketball’s all-time leading scorer. Kamilla Cardoso was the difference while becoming the first player born outside of the United States to win the Most Outstanding Player award at the Women’s Final Four.

Kamilla Cardoso owned the boards

“South Carolina is so good,” Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark said. “There’s only so much you can do. Cardoso has 17 rebounds. They have 51 as a team. We have 29. Hard to win a basketball game like that. You’ve basically got to shoot perfect at that point.”

South Carolina finished the season 38-0 to become the 11th team to complete an undefeated season in women’s Division I basketball. Cardoso scored 15 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds to lead the Gamecocks to their third women’s basketball national title.


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She also blocked a game-high three shots. Her 17 rebounds were only five fewer than Iowa’s entire starting lineup combined and only 12 fewer than Iowa had overall. Cardoso arrived in the United States at 15 years old by herself. Her parents had never seen her play in person in the United States until her mom and sister arrived for South Carolina’s senior day early last month. 

The McDonald’s All-American began her college career at Syracuse, winning the ACC Freshman and co-Defensive Player of the Year awards. She transferred to South Carolina for her sophomore year and steadily improved as a backup for coach Dawn Staley.

Cardoso credits Dawn Staley

Cardoso was the SEC’s 6th Woman of the Year as a junior and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year this season as a senior. 

“She means a lot to me,” Cardoso said of Staley. “I feel like, since the first day I got to South Carolina, she’s been working so hard to get me ready and prepared for moments like this. I’m just so thankful to have her as a coach. She’s like an inspiration for me and a lot of young girls out there.

“I’m just so thankful to have her as a coach. She’s the best in the business, you already know.”

Cordoso, who announced last week that she will enter the WNBA draft, will likely be a Top 4 pick in the upcoming draft. She has accomplished the goal she set for herself when she left her hometown of Montes Claros.

Cardoso has proudly represented Brazil’s national team, leading her country to the 2023 FIBA AmeriCup gold medal as that tournament’s MVP. Kamilla Cardoso then capped her career with a national championship and the Most Outstanding Player award.

“It was amazing,” she said. “I feel like I just wanted to get out there in this tournament and just play really well for my teammates, for my coaches, and to win the championship. So I think that’s what I did.”

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