USC’s A’ja Wilson hopes to end her college career triumphantly
A’ja Wilson’s four-year college career at the University of South Carolina has been a blur.
When it comes to her fellow Gamecocks that blur has probably been the most impactful, athletically, in school history.
The USC Women’s Basketball team has won four consecutive Southeastern Conference Tournament Championships, something that had never been accomplished in league history. The Gamecocks won three SEC regular season titles and the program’s only national championship during Wilson’s tenure.
A four-time All-SEC First Team performer and three-time First Team All-American, Wilson has already been named Player of the Year by USA Today and ESPN.
That is secondary to the Hopkins native, however, as she is focused on completing her collegiate career much the way she has attacked it throughout her time on campus – with style, grace and intensity.
Despite entering March Madness as the defending national champs, the Gamecocks (26-6) will have to again venture far away from home if it manages to win two games in the Colonial Life Arena this weekend.
They will have to travel to the Albany Regional and potentially have to defeat the face of women’s college basketball, the number one ranked UCONN Huskies, to have an opportunity to repeat.
“I’m going to take it all in,” said Wilson. “This is my last championship, my last run to a championship so we’re going to take it all in. Of course, we would have loved to have (the) Lexington (Ky. Regional) like last time, but we can only control what we can control.
“Like coach says, the last time they sent us out west, we got the job done. It’s something we can’t control, but we can control us, how disciplined we are. When everyone is locked in, it doesn’t really matter where we are, we’ll still get the job done.”
USC begins its journey Friday night against North Carolina A&T at the Colonial Life Arena. If it is successful, a Sunday encounter against the winner of the Virginia/California contest follows.
While Wilson is excited to have potentially two more games in The CLA, her goals for the Gamecocks are more substantial.
“It is there,” Wilson said of Carolina’s potential to repeat as NCAA Champions. “It is one of my goals – winning a national championship and never thinking about back-to-backs. Now I’m in that position, the opportunity to play for back-to-backs so that’s what I’m shooting for.”
While no one is predicting a title for the Gamecocks this time around, Wilson isn’t bothered. She’s determined to prove the naysayers wrong.
“I’ve always been looked at as the underdog,” said Wilson. “My entire four years here, we’ve always had the target on our back. It has just gotten a bit bigger. Even though we won the national championship, we’re still the underdogs. Even in the SEC Tournament we were the underdogs.
“I think it fuels our fire, honestly. We have fun. I love our energy. It doesn’t really matter who we’re playing, we have the same energy and the same love for the game. That really shows. You can’t ask for a better team than I have here.”