Alexa FilippoESPN5 minutes of reading
New York — The The Indiana Fever selected former South Carolina star and 2022 Naismith Player of the Year Aaliyah Boston with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft Monday night at Spring Studios in New York City.
BOSTON — A 6-foot-5 forward who grew up in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, before moving to Massachusetts as a teenager to pursue his basketball dream — became the second overall pick out of South Carolina. Time League MVP in 2018 is Aja Wilson.
“It’s very special, and I thank God for putting me in this position,” Boston said. “Everybody at Indiana, they saw something in me, and I was ready to go out there and go to work.”
Maryland’s Diamond Miller was selected 2nd overall by the Minnesota Lynx, while Maddie Siegrist was Villanova’s highest WNBA draft pick 3rd overall, going to the Dallas Wings.
The Washington Mystics picked fourth overall and added Iowa State’s Stephanie Soares, who then traded to the Wings for a future first- and second-round pick. This marks the fourth straight year Washington has traded one of its first-round picks.
Dallas used the fifth pick on Lou Lopez Senachal from UConn. Stanford’s Haley Jones was selected sixth by the Atlanta Dream, who added Boston’s South Carolina teammate Leticia Amihere at No. 8 overall.
The Fever selected Boston with the franchise’s first-ever No. 1 overall pick in 2016, a moment of celebration for an organization that has languished since the retirement of legend Tamika Catchings.
Indiana has missed the postseason every year — the league’s longest active playoff drought — and is coming off a 5-31 campaign in 2022. The Fever hired Christy Sides as their new head coach this offseason and removed the interim tag. General Manager Lynn Dunn.
Considered a potential franchise in the making, Boston is a four-year difference maker in Columbia, where he led the Gamecocks to three consecutive Final Four appearances and a 2022 national title. She was named the Final Four Player of the Year during that tournament, while earning three All-American selections, two SEC Player of the Year awards and four Lisa Leslie Center of the Year awards throughout her decorated career.
“She’s great. She’s ready,” South Carolina coach Don Staley said of Boston in the 2023 Final Four. “She’s been the cornerstone of our program for the last four years. She’s lifted us up. Raised the standard of how to approach basketball. She’s never had a bad day. She’s never come to practice dreading it. She’s always been the person you want to see very, very consistently.
“I sleep well knowing she’s in our program, I sleep well knowing she’s good, the next level she’s definitely going to make a mark.”
“I think Aaliyah Boston is a legitimate first-round option,” Dunn said the week before the draft. “I’ve watched her play really closely this year. Her size, her basketball IQ, her character, her leadership skills. She brings a huge amount to the table…she’s going to make an immediate impact in this league, and she wanted to come into the draft and get her fifth overall. I am thankful that the year of covid did not use up.
Boston joins a young group in Indianapolis that includes 2022 No. 2 pick Nalisa Smith out of Baylor, and Boston’s former teammate Destanie Henderson of South Carolina.
The Fever also held the seventh pick, which they used to draft Indiana’s Grace Berger, the first player selected in the first round in Hoosiers program history.
The Seattle Storm, who recently lost Sue Bird to retirement and Breanna Stewart to free agency, selected Tennessee’s Jordan Horston at No. 9.
Zia Cook became the third South Carolina pick in the first round, going 10th overall to the Los Angeles Sparks. It’s the 10th time any school has selected three or more players in the first round (last time: 2020 at Oregon).
“Friend of animals everywhere. Devoted analyst. Total alcohol scholar. Infuriatingly humble food trailblazer.”