The number 22 and A’ja Wilson have been connected long before the South Carolina women’s basketball star arrived at college wearing the number. It’s also the number she wore in high school, the number Heathwood Hall retired earlier this year, the number she sported at the McDonald’s All-American game, and it is in her Twitter handle as well: @_AjaWilson22.
So it was fitting that the All-American’s senior night at Colonial Life Arena on Thursday happened on the 22nd on February. Even her performance was full of 2s, as she became the first USC player in 27 years to have 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game.
“This was pretty amazing that senior night did fall on the 22nd day. That’s a great thing, shout out to whoever did the schedule,” Wilson joked after the Gamecocks defeated LSU.
One of the greatest players in South Carolina history also revealed why she initially chose to wear the number 22, and why she’s held on to it ever since — and fair warning, it may seem a little silly in light of what she’s gone on to accomplish.
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“When I chose 22, I wasn’t really the best player, so I felt like I wasn’t good enough to wear 23, so I was like, maybe I’ll go one down. Because 23 was always that number, like, (Michael Jordan), everyone’s trying to shape their game, (LeBron James), everybody. So when I started out, I was not up to par with any of that, so I was like, you know what? I’m going to go one down. And 22 has been treating me well for a long, long time, and hopefully I can continue to wear 22.”
Though Wilson may have felt unworthy to share a jersey number with two of the greatest basketball players ever, LSU coach Nikki Fargas said after Thursday’s contest that the 6-foot-5 senior is an all-time great herself.
“A’ja Wilson is one of the toughest players that we have played in our league, and she will go down as one of the best players to have played not only here at South Carolina but also in the SEC,” Fargas said.