Gamecock Alumna A’ja Wilson Named 2020 WNBA MVP

Gamecock Alumna A’ja Wilson Named 2020 WNBA MVP
Las Vegas Aces center A'ja Wilson backs into position in front of Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) (Source: Phelan M. Ebenhack)

COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina women’s basketball alumna A’ja Wilson was named the 2020 WNBA Most Valuable Player, the league announced today on ESPN’s The Jump. One of 10 Gamecocks to play in the WNBA since 1999, Wilson is the first to earn league MVP honors. The recognition in her third season follows 2018 WNBA Rookie of the Year honors and WNBA All-Star selections in 2018 and 2019.

“A’ja has loved on the game of basketball for as long as I’ve known her, and the game is loving her back in the form of this recognition,” South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley said. “We are proud of her great work on the hardwood and being a change agent for social justice.”

Wilson collected 43 of 47 first-place votes and 458 total points from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

In her third WNBA season, Wilson averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 blocked shots and 1.23 steals in 31.7 minutes per game over the 22-game season. The 6-4 forward led the WNBA in blocks, ranked second in scoring and finished sixth in rebounding. Wilson also shot a career-high 48.0 percent from the field and 78.1 percent from the free throw line. She led the WNBA in free throws made (118) and attempted (151).

Wilson scored at least 20 points in 15 of 22 games, including a season-high 31 points against the New York Liberty on Aug. 9. She recorded seven double-doubles (points-rebounds) and had two games with five blocks. Wilson was named the WNBA Western Conference Player of the Month for August and September, with Las Vegas posting a combined 17-2 record in those two months.

Behind Wilson, the Aces tied for the best record in the WNBA (18-4) during the regular season and earned the top seed in WNBA Playoffs 2020 presented by AT&T. Las Vegas received a double bye into the WNBA Semifinals, which will begin on Sunday, Sept. 20.

Wilson was the No. 1 pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft after a four-year college career that saw her become the most decorated student-athlete of any sport at South Carolina. She was the program’s first National Player of the Year, bringing home the honor unanimously in 2018, and the first three-time SEC Player of the Year in SEC history. In addition to being a four-time All-American, including three first-team selections, Wilson helped the Gamecocks to their first NCAA Final Four in 2015 and their first NCAA National Championship in 2017. Her teams went a combined 57-7 in SEC play en route to three regular-season titles, became the first team to win four consecutive SEC Tournament crowns, and won 89.0 percent of their games (129-16).