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WNBA Draft 2023: Get to know No. 1 pick Aliyah Boston

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 23: Aliyah Boston #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks dribbles against the Tennessee Lady Vols in the second quarter at Thompson-Boling Arena on February 23, 2023 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

The 2023 WNBA Draft is here, with a stacked draft class. Among the top prospects is South Carolina star Aliyah Boston, who went to the Indiana Fever with the No. 1 overall pick. 

Could Boston be what the Indiana Fever need to get back into playoff contention?

“She is exactly what the Fever needs,” Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said recently. “Whatever challenges that the Fever have had in the past, there are things with Aliyah they will never have to worry about. Like coming in with an incredible example of what a professional should look like, even as a rookie. She will elevate even their most veteran player.”

The 6-5 forward has the ability to both lead an offense and to excel on defense.

The two-time reigning Naismith Defender of the Year, Boston also was the consensus national player of the year and the Final Four’s most outstanding player in 2022. She helped lead South Carolina to its second national title in program history and, alongside the rest of her class, cemented South Carolina amongst the elites. 

If there’s an award to win, odds are Boston has won it. 

While her share of the Gamecocks’ offense dropped to just 21% this season, better spacing in the WNBA means that she should be better offensively. According to ESPN, Boston was double-teamed on 23% of her post-up opportunities in her senior season. Normally, players face a hard double-team just 17% of the time.

And of course, more often than not, teams are triple-teaming Boston. But that should not hold true in the WNBA, where each team has more offensive firepower at its disposal.

Defensively, Boston could help get Indiana back among the league’s elite. She’s led the nation in defensive rating in the last two seasons, and she has finished among the top three in all four of her seasons at South Carolina.

“I think we lost a little bit of our identity when ‘Catch’ retired because we were always a great defensive team,” Fever general manager Lin Dunn told Sports Illustrated, referring to Tamika Catchings. “We always valued defense. We were always one of the top three or four [teams] in the league in defensive statistics. That went away. That is a piece of our identity that must come back, that must be reinforced.”

If that’s the case, then the decision to pick Boston at No. 1 overall must have been a no-brainer.