NCAAW: What makes Aliyah Boston 2023’s top WNBA Draft prospect?

Every NCAA season, there are a couple of gamers commonly considered favorites to be picked No. 1 general in the following WNBA Draft. How strong each gamer’s case is depends, obviously, on numerous things: location of biggest requirement of the WNBA group preparing at No. 1, how each of those gamers’ video games establish throughout their last go-around in college and even a late riser or more who goes into the lottery game choice discussion late and surprises individuals on draft night.

This season, however, there’s one gamer standing head and shoulders (possibly actually) above the pack. It’s South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, and absolutely nothing has actually altered considering that the start of the 2022-23 NCAA season to move her below the potential No. 1 general draft slot this coming April.

Boston, a 6-foot-5 center from the U.S. Virgin Islands, has actually made her mark not just as one of the most embellished gamers in South Carolina history, however likewise as one of Division I’s finest frontcourt gamers in current memory. As the Gamecocks’ beginning center, Boston has actually led South Carolina to an unbelievable combined record of 120-8 considering that 2019-20, consisting of 2 SEC Tournament titles, an NCAA Final Four look, and most just recently an NCAA champion in 2022.

Indeed, what Boston implies to South Carolina goes far beyond her already-impressive specific stats, and you can wager WNBA groups are taking a look at her not simply as another skilled gamer to contribute to their lineup, however as a franchise foundation who can be developed around. Let’s break down what makes Boston a can’t-miss out on WNBA possibility in the 2023 draft class.

Honors and stats

Boston was ranked the No. 3 general hire in the class of 2019 by ESPN’s HoopGurlz, simply ahead of Gamecock colleagues Zia Cooke, Laeticia Amihere and Brea Beal. In high school, she was called a McDonald’s All-American in 2019, and won a trio of Gatorade Player of the Year awards in the state of Massachusetts as a sophomore, junior and senior.

Boston’s college awards, on the other hand, are almost too many to discuss. She made an instant influence on the Gamecocks as a freshman, winning SEC and National Freshman of the Year Awards in 2020 after balancing 12.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per video game.

Many more awards followed in Boston’s sophomore and junior seasons, in which she balanced 13.7 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks and 16.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocks, respectively. Boston was called the SEC Player of the Year in 2022, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and an All-SEC First-Teamer in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Nationally, Boston is a three-time Lisa Leslie Center of the Year winner, a Naismith Defensive Player of the Year (2022) and a two-time consentaneous first-team All-American (2021 and 2022). Finally, she was called nationwide Player of the Year and NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player in 2022 for her efforts throughout South Carolina’s champion run.

Boston has actually had comprehensive success for U.S.A. Basketball also. She’s won 5 gold medals as a member of Team U.S.A. in the 2017 FIBA Americas U17 Championship, 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup, 2018 Youth Olympic Games, 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup and 2021 FIBA AmeriCup, the lattermost competitors including a stacked U.S.A. lineup with lots of potential WNBA skill. Boston likewise took part in training school with the U.S.A. Women’s National Team ahead of the 2022 FIBA World Cup, and it’s safe to state she’ll become part of the group progressing.

Boston’s elite play in the paint and on the boards drives South Carolina’s success

Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Boston’s video game is formed in the standard archetype of low-post gamers. She’s every bit as strong as she is high, with huge shoulders and a powerful base making her almost difficult to out-muscle no matter where she is on the court. That’s normally someplace near the rim and/or the painted location; while Boston can striking the periodic midrange jumper, she’s at her finest when bodying protectors at the cup, shooting 68.4 percent there as a senior (Synergy Sports).

One glimpse at Boston’s year-by-year stats will provide a sufficient concept of simply how efficient she is at this. For her college profession, Boston is balancing 14.2 points per video game on 55 percent shooting, and as a senior, she’s scoring 22.5 percent of her points at the nasty line (Her Hoop Stats). Currently, Boston is likewise tape-recording simply over 20 percent of her offending belongings on offending rebounds, shooting 66.7 percent on those efforts.

In a method, Boston’s physical supremacy embodies what the Gamecocks stand out at on offense: Offensive rebounding, drawing fouls, and grinding down smaller sized challengers through a complete 40 minutes of frustrating play in the paint. The Gamecocks’ depth in advance (6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso and 6-foot-4 Amihere, in specific) keeps Boston’s specific work lighter than it may be on other groups, as she’s playing simply around 25 minutes per video game as a senior, however make no error about it; Boston is an outright game-changer when she’s on the flooring, and it’s simply as much since of her defense as her offense.

Highlights: Boston manages the paint versus UConn

Sure, the obstructed shots are excellent. Boston has actually balanced 2 or more blocks per video game in each season of her college profession.

Lots of huge centers can do that, however. In Boston’s case, her defense isn’t simply an item of how high she is; she moves incredibly well for her size, completely efficient in sticking to a lot of border gamers to a minimum of trouble them into taking challenging shots without quiting simple layups. She’s had a fantastic understanding of protective angles considering that she was a freshman, and her capability to safeguard and blend it up on the boards without fouling (3.2 percent nasty rate as a senior) makes her contributions on that end a lot more important.

Think, for a minute, about what a basketball group desires from its center. Rebounding? Check; Boston has actually been elite because department considering that her very first video game as a Gamecock. Defense? Boston has actually anchored the No. 8, No. 15, No. 2 and No. 1 defenses in Division I (according to Her Hoop Stats’ Defensive Rating metric), both by reducing the effects of opposing post-up hazards and offering probably the very best aid defense of any gamer in the nation.

Now let’s return to Boston’s offense, this time with the context of what type of defenses she’s seeing. As the unbeaten Gamecocks (27-0 in 2022-23) keep rolling, challengers are attempting various things to keep Boston and her colleagues off-balance. Double- and triple-teams are ending up being increasingly more regular. Zone and “junk” defenses are something Boston and South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley are utilized to by now; Boston has actually welcomed the difficulty, stating it has actually assisted establish her own offending awareness, while Staley will rapidly advise any critics that her star center’s numbers would look much various if she dealt with more truthful defenses.

Those days are coming quickly. When Boston is prepared to the WNBA — probably by the Indiana Fever, who own the No. 1 general choice — she’ll play in pro-level flooring spacing, where she can completely put her low-post toolbox to utilize. The outcomes will likely be magnificent.

Watch her play

There are simply 2 regular-season video games staying on South Carolina’s schedule, however, thankfully, both will be telecasted nationally. The Gamecocks will handle the Tennessee Lady Vols on Thursday (ESPN) and after that end up things up versus the Georgia Bulldogs on Sunday (ESPN2).

After that, it’s time for the SEC Tournament (starting on March 1), which will be telecasted on the SEC Network through 3 rounds. The semifinals will be relayed on ESPNU, while the competition last — which South Carolina will have a great chance of reaching — will be aired on ESPN on March 5.

All stats and group records for the 2022-23 NCAA season are existing through Feb. 19, 2023.

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