After conquering women’s college basketball and the WNBA, A’ja Wilson moves on to her next challenge. The 24-year-old from Hopkins, SC, is in the midst of her fourth WNBA season for the Las Vegas Aces after being selected first in the 2018 Draft.
Wilson will make her Olympic debut in Tokyo, as she joins 11 of the nation’s top basketball players in contention for Team USA’s seventh consecutive gold medal. This may be her first competition, but Wilson is already established as one of the best players in the world and she will certainly be a key contributor in 2021.
Wilson led South Carolina to their first NCAA Women’s National Title
Wilson was a beast from the moment she set foot on the University of South Carolina campus. She started a game in the freshman but averaged 13.1 points per game and was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and First Team All-SEC.
Over the next three years, Wilson cemented his legacy as one of college basketball’s all-time greats. From her sophomore to her senior years, Wilson was three times SEC Player of the Year, three times Consensus First Team All-American and two times SEC Defensive Player of the Year. In his junior year (2016-17), the Gamecocks went 33-4 and defeated Mississippi State in the National Championship game for their first-ever NCAA title.
She was named the 2020 WNBA MVP at just 24 years old
The 2020 WNBA season was anything but ordinary, with the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the start and ultimately forcing the league into a bubble at IMG Academy in Florida. In the 22-game season, Wilson averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game for the 18-4 Las Vegas Aces.
She was named the league’s MVP, leading the Aces to the WNBA Finals before ultimately losing to the Seattle Storm. At 24, Wilson was tied with Tina Charles (2012) and Breanna Stewart (2018) as the league’s youngest MVP in the past 12 years.
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She won a gold medal for the United States team at the 2018 World Cup
Wilson has never played in the Olympics, but his United States team resume is loaded. The United States team is a perfect 47-0 in games Wilson has played including the 2018 World Cup, the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament and many other teams dating back to 2013.
During her time with Team USA, Wilson was honored with a handful of awards. She was named to the FIBA 2020 Olympic Qualifying Team, 2015 American Basketball Female Athlete of the Year, 2015 FIBA U19 World Cup MVP and FIBA Championship MVP Americas U18 2014. Wilson should feel right at home with “USA” on her chest in Tokyo.
Wilson made Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2021
Wilson is just as impressive off the field as she is on the field. Earlier this year, she was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for sport. Wilson achieved this honor due in part to his work on LeBron James’ “More Than a Vote” campaign. Wilson and his parents founded the A’ja Wilson Foundation to help children and families struggling with dyslexia.
Mountain Dew made Wilson their first WNBA Ambassador
Mountain Dew represents NBA stars Joel Embiid and Russell Westbrook, but never signed a WNBA player until Wilson entered the league in 2018.
“Me, being the first player in the WNBA with Dew is also special,” Wilson said. “I try to use my voice to bring people together. And to help all of us understand that we’re all here to do things that we love, but at the same time, we’re part of something bigger than basketball.
Wilson is also part of the Nike athlete family, where she has an exclusive deal.
Wilson and Kelsey Plum are teammates in Las Vegas, enemies on social media
In his spare time, Wilson often turns on his phone keypad and takes to Twitter. Wilson and Aces teammate Kelsey Plum frequently engage in hilarious arguments online:
Plum will also play for the United States team at the Tokyo Olympics, as she will adapt for the 3×3 women’s basketball team. Twitter exchanges between these two in Tokyo will be essential because both teams have gold medal expectations.