Former South Carolina women’s basketball great A’ja Wilson was named the WNBA Rookie of the Year, the league announced Sunday. The State had previously reported the news.
Wilson, the No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA draft this spring, posted a historic first season with the Las Vegas Aces, becoming the first rookie in WNBA history to average at least 20 points and eight rebounds per game. She was named an All-Star and led the Aces, in their inaugural season after relocating, to within one spot in the standings of a playoff appearance.
Wilson was unanimously voted by 34 electors as rookie of the year, as she led all first-year players in points, rebounds and blocks.
In her senior season with South Carolina, Wilson led the Gamecocks to the Elite Eight while sweeping every national player of the year award, averaging 22.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game.
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The Associated Press and ESPN have both voted Wilson Rookie of the Year, but Wilson will be presented with the official trophy when the U.S. women’s national team, of which Wilson is a member, plays Japan in an exhibition game Monday in Washington, D.C.
Wilson is the second player in South Carolina program history to be named Rookie of the Year, joining her former teammate Allisha Gray, who won the award in 2017 with the Dallas Wings. This is the third consecutive season in which a former Gamecock has made the WNBA’s All-Rookie team — Tiffany Mitchell did so in 2016 with the Indiana Fever.
Currently, Wilson is training with Gray, Mitchell and USC coach Dawn Staley with USA Basketball in hopes of making the national team that will play in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in the Canary Islands later this month. The group played an exhibition game in Columbia last week.
After that, Wilson will play in China this offseason, starting in October. She will be joined by fellow USC alum Alaina Coates in the same league, while Gray will play in Israel.