Aliyah Boston on playing for South Carolina: ‘Best decision I’ve ever made’

Boston posted 23 points and 18 rebounds in South Carolina’s Final Four win against Louisville. (Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

South Carolina basketball star Aliyah Boston was featured in Whistle’s “No Days Off” series ahead of the Final Four. She breaks down her love of the sport and what motivates her to play the game.

Boston initially took up basketball because her sister played, but she quickly fell in love with it on her own terms. The support of friends and family has helped her stay motivated to reach new heights — including Sunday’s national championship game against UConn.

She considers anyone playing in the WNBA to be her role model because “they were living the life that I wanted to at some point,” she said. “And so I looked up to every single one of them.”

But for Boston, the all-time WNBA GOAT is Candace Parker.

“When I first started playing basketball, I loved everything about her game,” she said. “The way that she was just so versatile, she could do whatever, whenever and make it look good.”

Boston is on the same path, as she has become one of the most versatile players in college basketball. Her hard work was rewarded Wednesday when she swept the Naismith national basketball awards, being named both national player of the year and defensive player of the year. She also won the Associated Press player of the year award.

Throughout the season, Boston averaged 16.8 points and 12.2 rebounds per game, posting double-doubles in 27 straight games and helping South Carolina remain the wire-to-wire No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll. Her double-double streak was snapped in the Elite Eight, but she roared back with 23 points and 18 rebounds in the Gamecocks’ Final Four win against Louisville.

She says that the decision to attend South Carolina and play for coach of the year Dawn Staley was the “best decision I’ve ever made.”

But while the expectations have risen over the years, the junior forward tries not to put too much pressure on herself – though she recognizes that pressure can sometimes be a good thing.

“Pressure means that you’re doing a lot of things right,” she said, adding that she tries to go along with the ebbs and flows of the game.

“If something is going really good, don’t necessarily go up with it because you need to stay level headed,” she continued. “And if things are maybe not going your way, don’t get too low because that can just take you completely out of what you’ve already had in mind.”

Catch Boston’s full appearance on “No Days Off” below: