Dawn Staley wants a statue of A'ja Wilson outside Colonial Life Arena, and a South Carolina lawmaker wants to build another — on State House grounds.
Rep. Leon Howard, a Democrat from Richland County, proposed a resolution Wednesday that would create the A’ja Wilson Monument Commission and provide for its membership, duties, and related matters, with the intent to erect a statue of Wilson on State House grounds.
In a press release detailing Howard's resolution, he praised Wilson's accomplishments with USC women's basketball team, including a 2017 national championship and unanimous national player of the year honors this past season.
“Recognizing important South Carolinians shouldn’t be limited to the past. We should recognize greatness in the present,” Howard said.
“A’ja Wilson is an incredible, world-class athlete from right here in Columbia, South Carolina. This monument is a way to recognize her achievements."
The resolution is widely expected not to pass, and it has yet to be read or assigned or a bill number. There are no other monuments to athletes on the State House grounds.
However, it is not the only effort to get Wilson permanently memorialized — when she was presented with the Naismith Trophy on April 9, USC coach Dawn Staley publicly called on fans to petition university president Harris Pastides and athletic director Ray Tanner for a statue of Wilson outside Colonial Life Arena. She also offered to pay $100,000 to help fund the statue.
Only one South Carolina athlete has had a statue erected on campus or at an athletic facility — football great George Rogers has one outside Williams Brice Stadium, and he has said he thinks Wilson should get one too.
However, Tanner told The State that while he is personally on board with Wilson getting a statue, there is a process that needs to take place before it can happen, and that will take time. She also must wait at least five years before her jersey can be retired, according to athletic department rules. Tanner also has said he is favor of retiring more jerseys and numbers, and the earliest that can happen for Wilson would be the spring of 2023.