USC’s A’ja Wilson is first pick in WNBA Draft
South Carolina senior forward A’ja Wilson was the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft 2018 presented by State Farm Thursday night at the Nike New York Headquarters. Chosen by the Las Vegas Aces, she becomes the Gamecocks’ first WNBA top pick and just the third Gamecock of any sport to be the first pick in his/her sport’s professional draft, joining Jadeveon Clowney (2014) and George Rogers (1981), who were No. 1 picks in the NFL Draft.
Leading the Gamecocks to the NCAA Elite Eight for the third time in her four seasons, Wilson closed her college career as the most decorated women’s basketball player in South Carolina history and etched her name in the SEC history books as well. The Gamecocks’ first four-time All-American, including three seasons as a first-team selection, and four-time First-Team All-SEC choice, she is also the first three-time SEC Player of the Year in conference history. A three-time finalist for the three primary national player of the year awards – Citizen Naismith Trophy, Wade Trophy and Wooden Award – she brought all three home in 2017-18 after the best statistical season of her career, including ranking among the nation’s top 11 in scoring (22.6 ppg, 7th), rebounding (11.8 rpg, 11th) and blocked shots (3.18, 5th) averages. She also earned the title from every media outlet who bestows it and was the Honda Sport Award winner for Basketball.
The Hopkins, S.C., native is the Gamecocks’ all-time leading scorer (2,389) and just the second player in program history to finish with at least 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in her career. In addition to leading the Gamecocks to the 2017 NCAA National Championships, Wilson was undefeated in her four SEC Tournaments as South Carolina became the first program to win four consecutive titles at the event. She holds 62 South Carolina records, including career points and blocked shots (363) and ranks in the program’s top five a total of 114 times.
Since Wilson joined the Gamecocks for the 2014-15 season, South Carolina posted a 129-16 record. That mark includes a 57-7 slate in SEC action to account for three SEC regular-season championships and one second-place finish, and a 44-13 record against nationally ranked opponents.
Wilson is the sixth SEC player taken at the top of the WNBA Draft and the first since Candace Parker (Tennessee) in 2008.
Nine Gamecocks all-time have been selected in the WNBA Draft, including five during head coach Dawn Staley’s tenure with the 2017 draft class of Alaina Coates (No. 2, Chicago Sky), Allisha Gray (No. 4, Dallas Wings) and Kaela Davis (No. 10, Dallas Wings) joining Aleighsa Welch (2015) and Tiffany Mitchell (2016). South Carolina now has seven first-round picks all-time with Mitchell (No. 9, Indiana), Jocelyn Penn (2003, No. 9, Charlotte) and Shaunzinski Gortman (2002, No. 9, Charlotte) rounding out the group.