October 21, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: Revisiting WNBA Finals MVP A’ja Wilson as a draft prospect

'A wizard from the high post'

Our weekly WNBA Retrospect series continues at Locked on Women’s Basketball! The series reviews game film, stats, news articles and more to determine who has been the best prospect in WNBA history. Last week, Hunter Cruse, Em Adler and Lincoln Shafer discussed Jewell Loyd, the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. This week, they discuss the No. 1 pick in 2018, A’ja Wilson.

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In college at South Carolina, the 6’5 Wilson won a national championship as a junior in 2017. She then averaged 22.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game as a senior. That season, she shot 54.2% from the field and won several national player of the year awards.

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Here’s Lincoln on what made Wilson a uniquely intriguing prospect in college:

“It takes about 30 seconds of watching A’ja to realize that she’s a special athlete for a 6’4, 6’5 big. She moves so fluidly and so smoothly. She can drive both ways. She is kind of just a wizard from the high post. If you put her at the elbow or at the free-throw line, it’s a bucket. She’s scoring the ball.

“But … one of the things that really sets her apart from other dominant post scorers is that passing. [She] never averaged more than 1.7 assists per game at South Carolina, but she really is adding value passing out of double teams, making skip passes out of post-ups, and finding teammates and creating good looks. … The thing that sets her apart is the athleticism and the passing to me.”

Wilson has played six WNBA seasons, all with the Las Vegas Aces, and has been a force since she entered the league. In 189 career games, she is averaging 19.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 blocks per game on 49.1% shooting from the field. At just 27 years old, she has won two WNBA championships, two MVP awards, two Defensive Player of the Year awards and one Finals MVP award. She is also a five-time All-Star in as many chances (there was no All-Star Game in 2020).

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