Published on April 7th, 2018 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
WILSON ADDS WOODEN AWARD TO 2018 HONORS
The forward swept the national player of the year awards in her final season at Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina senior forward A’ja Wilson became the unanimous national player of the year with the addition of the John R. Wooden Award Presented by Wendy’s, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced Friday night. After four seasons of etching her name in the Gamecock record books, Wilson closes out her career in the Garnet and Black with the highest national recognition from every organization that bestows national player of the year honors.
In her senior season, Wilson turned in her best statistical season, leading a youthful Gamecock team to second in the SEC regular-season standings, a fourth-consecutive SEC Tournament title and a spot in the NCAA Elite 8. The SEC Player of the Year and co-Defensive Player of the Year averaged 22.6 points to rank seventh in the nation, while her 11.8 rebounding average was 11th and her 3.18 blocked shots per game were fifth. She was the only player in the country ranked among the top 30 of all three categories. Wilson recorded 24 double-doubles this season, the second-most in program history, and netted double-figure points 32 times in her 33 games played. Her 105 blocks this season bested her own program single-season record and are one of eight single-season school records she set this season. Even as opponents targeted her as the Gamecock that had to be stopped, Wilson rose to every challenge, averaging 21.7 points and 12.6 rebounds against nationally ranked opponents.
The program’s first four-time All-American, including three seasons as a consensus first-team selection, Wilson is the first three-time SEC Player of the Year in league history. Her career summary is nothing short of a rewriting of the program record books, highlighted by becoming the program’s all-time scoring leader (2,389) and just the second player in program history to amass 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds – the 13th SEC player to hit both marks. Those numbers came via a four-year level of consistency that seemed immune to the credentials of her opponent. In 55 career games against nationally ranked opponents, Wilson posted 17.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. She holds a total of nine career school records and ranks second in 10 other categories, including scoring (17.3 ppg) and rebounding (9.2) averages in SEC play.
Wilson helped South Carolina to three of its four SEC regular-season championships and all of its league-record four consecutive SEC Tournament titles. She played a key role in both NCAA Final Four appearances and was the Most Outstanding Player in the Gamecocks’ 2017 NCAA National Championship.