South Carolina star Aliyah Boston declares for WNBA draft

3:51 PM ET

Alexa PhilippouESPN

CloseCovers women’s college basketball and the WNBA
Previously covered UConn and the WNBA Connecticut Sun for the Hartford Courant
Stanford graduate and Baltimore native with further experience at the Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times and Cincinnati Enquirer

South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball icon and 2021-22 national player of the year Aliyah Boston officially declared for the 2023 WNBA draft Saturday.

Boston, long presumed to go first in the 2023 draft class, chose not to use her fifth year of collegiate eligibility thanks to the “freebie” year granted to college athletes in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The No. 1 overall pick is held by the Indiana Fever, the first time they’ve earned the top selection in franchise history.

The WNBA draft will be held April 10 in New York.

God makes no mistakes❤️ this program has been so good to my family and I. Wouldn’t trade these past 4 years for anything. With love gamecock nation❤️ #forevertothee

— Aliyah A. Boston (@aa_boston) April 1, 2023

“When I first arrived on campus on that warm day in May of 2019, I had no idea what to expect as a 17 year old,” Boston wrote in her post. “Four years later, I can honestly say this was the best, first decision of my life… There is a quote that says – Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. In this moment, I am truly breathless as I make the next best decision of my life. I have decided to further pursue my dream by declaring for the 2023 WNBA Draft.”

Boston ends her collegiate career helping establish South Carolina as a women’s basketball powerhouse here to stay. In 2022 she led the Gamecocks to their second national title in five tournaments, where she won the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, as well as a 36-1 record this past season. Their sole loss came from Iowa in the national semifinal game Friday.

Boston, along with her fellow members of South Carolina’s decorated senior class, finished their run in Columbia with a 129-9 record over four years that included three consecutive Final Four appearances. The NCAA tournament was canceled in 2020, at which point the Gamecocks were ranked No. 1 in the country.

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In addition to winning player of the year as a junior and national freshman of the year in her debut season, the three-time first-team All-American took home two Naismith defensive player of the year honors, two SEC Player of the Year accolades and four Lisa Leslie center of the year awards. Boston averaged 14.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per game as a four-year starter at South Carolina, while all setting the program record for double-doubles (72).

“She’s great. She’s ready,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said Friday of Boston. “She has been the cornerstone of our program for the past four years. She elevated us. She raised the standard of how to approach basketball. She’s never had a bad day. She’s never come into practice sulking. She’s always just the person that you saw so very, very consistent.

“I slept very well knowing she was with our program, and I’ll sleep well knowing that she’s okay and she will definitely make her mark at the next level.”

The Fever selected multiple young players in last year’s draft as part of their rebuild, including No. 2 pick NaLyssa Smith and Destanni Henderson, Boston’s collegiate teammate. But Boston could be the franchise player ready to lift the Fever back to relevance after missing the postseason each year following the 2016 retirement of legend Tamika Catchings.

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