The Indiana Fever picked former South Carolina standout and 2022 Naismith Player of the Year Aliyah Boston with the first overall choice in the 2023 WNBA draught on Monday night at New York City’s Spring Studios.
Boston, a 6-foot-5 forward from St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands who moved to Massachusetts as a teenager to pursue her basketball passion, was the second overall choice out of South Carolina in 2018, following two-time league MVP A’ja Wilson.
“It’s just really special,” said Boston, who sparkled in a white jumpsuit and largely purple hair at the performance. “I’m grateful to God for putting me in this position, but I’m also grateful to everyone in Indiana who saw something in me, and I’m just ready to get there and get to work.”
The 2023 draught was a huge success for the whole Gamecocks program, with five players selected: Boston, Laeticia Amihere (No. 8 overall by the Atlanta Dream), Zia Cooke (No. 10 by the Los Angeles Sparks), Brea Beal (No. 24 by the Minnesota Lynx), and Victaria Saxton (No. 24 by the Minnesota Lynx). (No. 25 by the Fever).
South Carolina joined Notre Dame in 2019 and Tennessee in 2008 and 1999 as the fourth programme to have at least five players picked in a single draught.
Dawn Staley, one of the most accomplished players and coaches in the sport’s history, was in attendance to watch the achievement and praise her players, four of whom went 129-9 and proceeded to three straight Final Fours during their time in Columbia.
“Just the way we compete and work,” Boston replied when asked what contributed to the Gamecocks’ draught dominance. “I think we’ve all just put in a lot of effort.” For all of us to be here at this draught is just extraordinary.”
Diamond Miller of Maryland was taken No. 2 overall by the Lynx, as predicted, marking her the second Maryland player to be drafted that high in programme history. (Marissa Coleman was the other in 2009).
Miller stated after being picked by the Lynx, “I just remember watching Maya Moore.” “Those are some big shoes to fill, and I’m not filling them in any way.” As soon as I set foot in the new city, I’m going to be Diamond Miller. [Lynx basketball coach and president of operations] Cheryl [Reeve] already seems difficult, so I’m quite eager.”
Maddy Siegrist of Villanova, whose 29.2 points per game as a senior was the fourth-best average in a season since 2000, was selected third overall by the Dallas Wings, earning her the programme’s highest ever choice.
Siegrist described it as “a dream come true.” “I’m at a loss for words right now.” You’re thinking about a million different things. But I’ve been surrounded by fantastic people and teammates, and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them.”
Stephanie Soares, who was picked fourth overall by the Washington Mystics before being traded to the Wings, became the second Iowa State player to be drafted, and the first since 2010. Soares, a two-time NAIA Division I player of the year for the Cyclones before breaking her ACL in January, will miss the 2023 WNBA season.
“The rehabilitation is going very well,” Soares remarked. “[The] pure excitement of going to Washington, but now getting to go to Dallas, I mean, it’s going to be a fantastic, fantastic next step in the journey.”
The Mystics acquired the Wings’ 2024 second-round draught selection and a 2025 first-round pick in exchange for Soares, marking the fourth consecutive year that they had traded a first-round pick.
The selection of Boston by Indiana with the franchise’s first No. 1 overall choice was a moment of joy for an organisation that had been in decline since the departure of star Tamika Catchings in 2016.
Since then, Indiana has missed the playoffs every year, the longest current playoff drought in the league, and is coming off a 5-31 season in 2022. This summer, the Fever appointed Christie Sides as their new head coach and removed the interim designation from general manager Lin Dunn.
“Just being able to learn from everyone that’s already there… but also to kind of be who I am and just compete,” Boston said of his decision to join Indiana. “I believe that everyone on the Fever now is going to compete, and we’re going to work hard.” I’m absolutely thrilled to get started with everyone.”
Boston, seen as a potential franchise player, was a four-year difference-maker in Columbia, where she guided the Gamecocks to three straight Final Four visits and the 2022 national championship. During that tournament, she was voted Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, as well as three first-team All-American picks, two SEC Player of the Year accolades, and four Lisa Leslie Center of the Year trophies.
“She’s fantastic. “She’s ready,” Staley said of Boston’s appearance in the 2023 Final Four. “For the past four years, she has been the foundation of our programme.” She gave us a boost. She set a higher bar for how to approach basketball. She’s never had a terrible day in her life. She’s never been good at sulking. “She’s always just the person you saw so consistently. “I slept well knowing she was with our program, and I’ll sleep soundly knowing she’s OK and will undoubtedly make her mark at the next level.”
“On and off the court, Aliyah Boston will have an immediate impact on our franchise,” Dunn said in a statement. “We are thrilled to have her team up with Kelsey [Mitchell] and NaLyssa [Smith] as we reload the Indiana Fever.” Aliyah’s post talents, as well as her natural leadership abilities, have wowed us. This is a fantastic day for our company!”
Boston joins a youthful bunch in Indianapolis that includes Smith, the No. 2 overall selection out of Baylor in 2022, and Boston’s old South Carolina teammate, Destanni Henderson. Also in the first round, the Fever picked Indiana’s Grace Berger at No. 7, making her the first Hoosier player taken in the first round in school history.
Taylor Mikesell of Ohio State, LaDazhia Williams of LSU, and Saxton completed the Fever’s draught class.
“I would say winning every single game, and I still believe that can happen,” Boston stated of her inaugural season aspirations. “I believe we will have a great team that will compete.” We’re going to keep playing for each other. So I believe the most essential aspect is simply earning a lot of victories, but also maturing as players.”
The Wings were also active in the first round, selecting former Fairfield and UConn great Lou Lopez Senechal at No. 5 – UConn’s record 13th top-five selection – and Maryland’s Abby Meyers at No. 11. Dallas’ eight overall first-round choices in the last three seasons are the most in WNBA history in a three-year timeframe.
The Atlanta Dream picked Stanford’s Haley Jones at No. 6 and Amihere at No. 8, while the Seattle Storm chose Tennessee’s Jordan Horston at No. 9.
South Carolina’s Cooke was taken 10th overall, and the first time since Oregon in 2020 that a school had three or more players selected in the first round.
Minnesota finished the first round at No. 12 with French centre Maa Hirsch; Reeve subsequently said that Hirsch would not play in the WNBA in 2023.In the second round, the Connecticut Sun picked Williams’ LSU teammate and fellow 2023 national champion Alexis Morris 22nd, while the Wings selected Iowa State’s 2023 Big 12 player of the year Ashley Joens 19th..