By Jordan Morey | FeverBasketball.com
With a historic pick, the Indiana Fever selected a “generational” talent. An “obvious” choice who will make an immediate impact, and could flip the franchise’s fortunes the moment she arrives in the Hoosier State.
Selecting No. 1 overall for the first time in the team’s 23-year history, the Fever drafted 6-foot-5 center Aliyah Boston from the University of South Carolina during the 2023 WNBA Draft at Spring Studios in New York City on Monday.
“It’s just really special,” Boston said. “I’m thankful to God just for putting me in this position, but also thankful to everybody in Indiana because they saw something in me. I’m excited to get there and get to work.”
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Few players have entered the WNBA with a resume like Boston; she’s won almost every award possible up to this point in her career.
Boston, a four-year starter, led South Carolina to an NCAA championship run in 2022 while sweeping the national player of the year awards that year and racking up more than a dozen other honors. A four-time All-American – including three unanimous First Team selections and one Second Team selection as a freshman – Boston averaged 14.1 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks during her time at South Carolina.
In her senior season, Boston averaged 13 points, 9.8 rebounds and two blocks per game while helping the Gamecocks to a 36-1 overall record. South Carolina fell to Iowa 77-73 in the Final Four.
With Boston on the team, the Gamecocks had an overall record of 129-9 during her four years. Boston could’ve gone back to South Carolina for an additional year due to rules changed by the COVID-pandemic, but decided to forego the additional college season for the draft.
Among the dozens of honors Boston owns includes two SEC Player of the Year accolades and four Lisa Leslie center of the year awards. Off the court, she was also a two-time Academic All-American of the Year for Division I women’s basketball.
“She raised the standard of how to approach basketball.”
— Indiana Fever (@IndianaFever) April 10, 2023
For the Fever, General Manager Lin Dunn said Boston checked every box for what they were looking for in a player.
“I wouldn’t call it an easy choice, I would say it was an obvious choice once we did our homework,” Dunn said. “Once we did our research, and talked to her coaches, there was no one – in my opinion – that was in her league as far as considering for the first pick.”
Going into the draft, among her toolbox of skills, coaches and general managers had raved about Boston’s defensive presence – which is a focal point for Dunn and Fever head coach Christie Sides.
Boston is a two-time reigning National Defensive Player of the Year and will make an immediate impact on the Fever’s roster with her work in the post. With Boston anchoring inside, the Gamecocks gave up just 51.8 points per game this past season.
Sides described Boston as a “whole package.”
— Indiana Fever (@IndianaFever) April 10, 2023
“I mean, she’s generational, right?” Sides said. “She’s not only the full package of being a great player but just a great person and is going to be a great person with this franchise.”
While her offensive numbers slightly dipped this past season, many – including South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley as well as Sides – said Boston turning pro will change that. In the WNBA, unlike college, there is a defensive three-second rule so teams can’t triple or quadruple Boston and throw other junk defenses at her.
The 21-year-old will join a young Fever roster, which had 11 players with a year or less experience last season. Several key players return to the Fever, including leading scorer Kelsey Mitchell and 2022 first round draft picks NaLyssa Smith, Queen Egbo, Emily Engstler and Lexie Hull.
Boston will also be reunited with former South Carolina teammate Destanni Henderson in Indiana, who was taken 20th overall last year after serving as the Gamecocks’ point guard during their championship run in college.
“She was like ‘We’re reunited and we’re teammates again.’ And I was like ‘And it feels so good!’ You know the song,” Boston said about reuniting with Henderson. “That’s really what it was. But honestly, super excited to be with Henny again. It was great playing with her at South Carolina. So to already have that connection I think is really going to help us.”
Aliyah Boston with a special message for Fever fans.
we can't wait to get started. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/bkyIbWxuen
— Indiana Fever (@IndianaFever) April 11, 2023
Boston and Henderson will also be reunited with South Carolina’s Victaria Saxton, who was drafted by the Fever with the No. 25 pick.
Boston joins a Fever franchise that has failed to make the playoffs the last six seasons, including finishing with a WNBA-worst record of 5-31 last season.
A native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Boston moved to Massachusetts at age 12 with her sister to live with their aunt and cousin. On Monday, a watch party was held in St. Thomas, where Boston’s family and hometown fans gathered to celebrate.
In high school, Boston attended Worcester Academy where she was named a McDonald’s All-American and three-time Gatorade Massachustests Player of the Year.
Boston is the second first overall pick from South Carolina to be drafted, as Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson was the top pick during the 2018 draft.
“There’s just so many things – I can’t even list everything,” Dunn said. “She’s just a tremendous person, has great leadership skills and brings an enormous amount of positive energy to our program. It sends a message we are serious about establishing the Indiana Fever as a championship-caliber program.”