A’ja Wilson was selected first in the WNBA Draft by the Las Vegas Aces on Thursday evening, a selection everyone saw coming. Wilson has set enough collegiate records that outlets have dedicated entire stories to solely be about those records. The 6’5 center was the clear-cut top talent in the draft for her low-post scoring and rebounding abilities alone. She’ll become an immediate threat in the WNBA, and whichever team drafts her will have to recreate its offense to revolve around her.
Wilson averaged 23 points on 55 percent shooting, and 12 rebounds for Dawn Staley’s South Carolina Gamecocks team. She was at the heart of everything the team does, as few possessions ended without a Wilson touch. Her ability to create in the paint, drive to the hoop and kick out to shooters was key in her team’s Elite Eight run.
There’s not much she hasn’t done in her NCAA career.
She’s won a National championship, been named Player of the Year once and to the SEC All-First Team four times, set the South Carolina women’s record for most career points, free throw makes and attempts, and finished with the third-most rebounds.
Now it’s time for her to dominate the pros.
Why should Aces fans be excited for Wilson?
Wilson could be an All-Star in her first season — she’s that talented and her body has been pro-ready since last year’s championship. Don’t be shocked when her jersey is the leading seller wherever she lands.
She’s never faced a challenge she couldn’t handle. She’s battled with Mississippi’s 6’7 Teaira McCowan, who stands two inches taller, with success over the last three seasons in the SEC. In the Round of 32, she finished with 25 points on 17 shots and 11 rebounds against Virginia, going head-to-head with the NCAA’s tallest women’s basketball player, 6’9 Felicia Aiyeotan.
Wilson’s as prepared as she can be to see bigs like the Mercury’s Brittney Griner and the Lynx’s MVP Sylvia Fowles.
Her post moves are polished, she finishes through contact, and she shoots a solid 70 percent from the line when she gets there.
Here’s Las Vegas Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer’s scouting report:
You don’t get many players that can drive like she can. She can attack the basket with one dribble and cover a tremendous amount of ground. It says something when you have a player who’s relied on to take the ball out of bounds all the time. The trust factor is there to make the right pass. She’s also the player who comes back to get the ball and is the outlet pass to start a press-break because she’s going to make the right decisions. Those are the intangibles you look at for a player.
She shoots from an elevated position above her head so you don’t have to worry about shot-blocking. Overall, those are the intangibles that may set her apart from a lot of the other big players out there. I think in our league, she’s going to scare a lot of people guarding her because she’s able to take the ball to the basket off the drive.
Should fans be nervous about Wilson?
Wilson is the real deal, and has the tools to regularly double-double in her rookie season.
The one downside in Wilson’s game might be her lack of outside shooting but that’s not within her game for now anyway. Her home is down low where she can control the o-boards and muscle her way in for close-range shots.
Oh, and she did try 12 shots from range this season. Five of them went in! There’s untapped potential there.
A lucky WNBA team is days away from drafting its franchise cornerstone in A’ja Wilson.