A’ja Wilson talks about facing ‘idol’ Elena Delle Donne
A’ja Wilson’s first season in the WNBA has come to a close, and while it didn’t end with a win, the former South Carolina women’s basketball star still put an exclamation point on her rookie campaign, completing one of the best first-year seasons in the league’s 22 seasons.
Wilson’s team, the Las Vegas Aces, were eliminated from playoff contention on Friday after losing to the Dallas Wings, for whom fellow former Gamecocks Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis play. On Sunday, the Aces and Wilson lost to the Atlanta Dream to conclude the franchise’s inaugural season in Las Vegas. Wilson had 21 points and seven rebounds.
After being selected No. 1 overall in the WNBA draft in April, Wilson posted a historic rookie season, finishing with 682 points, second most among all rookies in league history and tied for fourth most among all players this year. Her 264 rebounds also put her in fifth place for this season among all players and 10th place all-time among rookies.
Wilson is the only player in league history to score at least 650 points, pull down 250 rebounds, collect 50 blocks and distribute 70 assists in her first year, and one of only five players to ever do so in WNBA history — the others are Breanna Stweart, Brittney Griner, Liz Cambage and Lisa Leslie.
Wilson also set a WNBA rookie record for free throws attempted and made in a season while earning an All-Star nod. Wilson led this season’s rookie class in Player Impact Estimate, usage rate and win shares and is widely considered a lock for the WNBA Rookie of the Year award.
Besides Wilson, USC was represented by four other former players in the WNBA, with Tiffany Mitchell posting a solid campaign in a trying season for the Indiana Fever and Alaina Coates improving over time with the Chicago Sky.
With the Dallas Wings, Gray and Kaela Davis will get a second shot at postseason play after falling in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. The Wings face the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
Davis is currently sidelined with a case of vertigo, but should the Wings advance far enough into the playoffs, she may be able to make a return. Gray, meanwhile, followed up her Rookie of the Year campaign last year with a sophomore season in which she ranked among the top 3 of second-year players in points, assists, rebounds and steals per game.
GAMECOCKS IN THE WNBA
Alaina Coates (Chicago Sky) — 32 games, 3.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.4 assists per game, 56.8 percent shooting on field goals
Kaela Davis (Dallas Wings) — 27 games, 6 starts, 5.0 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists per game, 34.7 percent shooting on field goals
Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings) — 34 games, 34 starts, 9.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.3 steals per game, 40.3 percent shooting on field goals
Tiffany Mitchell (Indiana Fever) — 34 games, 20 starts, 9.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.9 steals per game, 37.1 percent shooting on field goals
A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces) — 33 games, 33 starts, 20.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.7 blocks, 0.8 steals per game. 46.2 percent shooting on field goals