There were no surprises at the top of the 2023 WNBA Draft on Monday night as the Indiana Fever took former South Carolina standout Aliyah Boston with the first overall pick, as expected. Boston, the unanimous 2021-22 National Player of the Year and a three-time Associated Press first-team All-American, became the second No. 1 pick in school history, joining Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson (2018).
— South Carolina Women's Basketball (@GamecockWBB) April 10, 2023
“It’s just really special,” Boston said. “I’m thankful, first, to God just for putting me in this position, but also thankful to everybody in Indiana, just because they saw something in me and I’m just ready to get there and get to work.”
Boston’s basketball career and faith journey began in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she was raised in a Christian family. When she was 12, Boston and her older sister moved to Massachusetts and lived with their aunt to further their basketball careers.
In her interview Monday night with ESPN’s Holly Rowe, Boston made sure to acknowledge the support she received from her parents as she chased her dream.
“My parents made a big sacrifice allowing my sister and I to move away from home at the age of 12 and 14,” she told Rowe. “And so, to be able to see their hard work pay off, it’s just a blessing from God.”
Boston lost only nine games in her four-year career at South Carolina, making the Final Four all three NCAA Tournaments she played in and winning the national championship in 2021-22. She averaged 13.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks last season, which unfortunately ended in the Final Four as Iowa denied the Gamecocks a chance to repeat as national champions and complete an undefeated season. Boston leaves college as a two-time Naismith Defensive Player of the Year and South Carolina’s all-time leader in rebounds, while also ranking second in blocks and fifth in points.
“She raised the standard of how to approach basketball.”
— Indiana Fever ⛹️♀️🏀 (@IndianaFever) April 10, 2023
Having accomplished just about everything she could at the college level, Boston chose to forgo her extra year of eligibility and enter the draft. She thanked God in her social media post announcing her decision to turn pro.
— Aliyah A. Boston (@aa_boston) April 1, 2023
Boston joins a young Fever team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016, but features a promising group of five players that logged at least 12 minutes per game as rookies last season. One of those players is Destanni Henderson, who was teammates with Boston at South Carolina.
This was the first time in franchise history Indiana had the top pick.
“There’s just so many things,” Fever general manager Lin Dunn said of Boston. “I can’t even list everything. Just a tremendous person, great leadership skills. Just brings an enormous amount of positive energy to our program, sends a message that we’re serious about reestablishing the Indiana Fever as a championship-caliber program.”
Talking to the media following South Carolina’s loss to Iowa, Boston was asked whether she thought she would be able to impact the sport the way she has. If she was being honest, Boston replied, the answer was “no.”
Then she pointed to her faith.
“God is good, you know? And He works,” she said. “And I hope that all the little girls and boys that want to take pictures with me can see God through me because He’s the reason for all of this. No matter what happens, no matter how it happens, He is the reason for it all, and His plan is greater than ours.”
Indiana’s first preseason game is May 7, and the team begins the regular season at home against the Connecticut Sun on May 19.
— Aliyah Boston says ‘thanks goes to God’ as S. Carolina ends regular season 32-0
— ‘Child of God’ Jasmine Carson powers LSU to women’s national championship
— Coach Dawn Staley after S. Carolina wins national title: ‘Our path was divinely ordered’