Alexa PhilippouESPN3 Minute Read
NEW YORK — The Indiana Fever selected former South Carolina star and 2022 Naismith Player of the Year Aliyah Boston with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 WNBA draft on Monday night at New York City’s Spring Studios.
Boston — a 6-foot-5 forward who grew up in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands before moving to Massachusetts as a teenager to pursue her basketball dream — became the second top overall pick out of South Carolina, joining two-time league MVP A’ja Wilson in 2018.
“It’s really special, I’m thankful to God for putting me in this position,” Boston said. “Everyone in Indiana, they saw something in me, I’m ready to get there and get to work.”
The Washington Mystics picked fourth and added Iowa State‘s Stephanie Soares, who they then traded to the Wings for a future first- and second-round pick. Dallas subsequently used the fifth pick on Lou Lopez Senechal out of UConn.
The Fever selected Boston with the franchise’s first-ever No. 1 overall pick, a moment of celebration for an organization that has languished since the retirement of legend Tamika Catchings in 2016.
Indiana has missed the postseason each year since — the longest active playoff drought in the league — and is coming off a 5-31 campaign in 2022. The Fever hired Christie Sides as their new head coach this offseason and removed the interim tag for general manager Lin Dunn.
Considered a possible franchise player in the making, Boston was a four-year difference-maker in Columbia, where she propelled the Gamecocks to three consecutive Final Four appearances and the 2022 national title. She was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four during that tournament, while also earning three first-team All-American selections, two SEC Player of the Year honors, and four Lisa Leslie center of the year awards throughout her decorated career.
“She’s great. She’s ready,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said of Boston at the 2023 Final Four. “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 OK and she will definitely make her mark at the next level.”
“I think Aliyah Boston is a legitimate first pick option,” Dunn said in the week leading up to the draft. “I’ve watched her play very closely this year. Her size, her basketball IQ, her character, her leadership skills. She just brings an enormous amount to the table … she’s going to have an immediate impact on this league, and I’m just thankful — I think we all are — that she opted to come into the draft and didn’t use her fifth COVID year.”