May 22, 2024

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Indiana Fever selected Aliyah Boston No. 1 overall in the 2023 WNBA Draft

Indiana Fever selected Aliyah Boston No. 1 overall in the 2023 WNBA Draft

Alexa FilippoESPN5 minutes to read

Aaliyah Boston climbs No. 1 overall to Fever

The Indiana Fever used their first-ever draft pick to select Aliyah Boston from South Carolina.

New York – in The Indiana Fever selected former South Carolina star and 2022 Naismith Player of the Year Aliyah Boston with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft Monday night at New York City’s Spring Studios.

Boston — the 6-foot-5 forward who grew up in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands before moving to Massachusetts as a teenager to pursue her basketball dream — has become the second-best pick overall outside of South Carolina, joining two teams: Time league MVP A’ja Wilson in 2018.

“It’s really special, I’m grateful to God for putting him in this position,” Boston said. “Everyone in Indiana has seen something in me, and I’m ready to get out there and get to work.”

Maryland’s Diamond Miller was selected second overall by the Minnesota Lynx, while Maddy Siegrist became Villanova’s highest ever WNBA draft pick at number three, going to the Dallas Wings. Big East Commissioner Val Ackerman, who was the first president of the WNBA, sat with Siegrist.

The Wings also drafted UConn guard Lou Lopez Seneschal twice later. She had transferred to UConn after a stellar career at Fairfield.

“It feels surreal, I really didn’t think I’d be here,” Senchal said. “I’ve come a long way, and I’ve been through a lot of challenges.”

Stephanie Soares of Iowa came in fourth, behind Washington. The Mystics quickly traded her to Dallas shortly after picking the 6-foot-7 center. Washington recovered a future first- and second-round pick. This is the fourth year that the Mystics have traded one of their first-round draft picks.

“It was an interesting feeling,” Soares said. “Pure excitement going to Washington, but now going to Dallas. It would be a great next step in the trip.”

Soares tore her ACL in January and will miss the upcoming WNBA season.

Stanford guard Haley Jones was sixth ahead of the Atlanta Dream, who also drafted fellow South Carolina quarterback Letitia Amehre, eighth overall.

The Fever selected Boston with the franchise’s first-ever overall pick, a moment of celebration for an organization that has languished since legend Tamika Catchings retired in 2016.

Indiana has missed the postseason every year since—the league’s longest active playoff drought—and is coming off a 5-31 campaign in 2022. The Fever hired Christy Sides as their new head coach this offseason and removed the interim tag for manager General Lin Dunn.

Seen as a potential franchise player in the pipeline, Boston was a four-year difference-maker at Columbia, propelling the Gamecocks to three consecutive Final Fours and the 2022 national title. She was named the Final Four MVP during that tournament, while also earning the Three first-team All-American selections, two SEC Player of the Year honors, and four Lisa Leslie Player of the Year honors throughout her decorated career.

“She’s great. She’s ready,” South Carolina coach Don Staley said of Boston in the 2023 Final Four. “She’s been a cornerstone of our program for the past four years. She’s elevated us. She’s raised the bar on how we approach basketball. She’s never had a bad day. She’s never practiced pouting. She’s always the one who saw that as very, very consistent.”

“She slept so well knowing she was with our show, I’m going to sleep so well knowing she’s fine and she’s definitely going to make her mark on the next level.”

South Carolina saw three first-round picks, including Alia Boston, who coach Don Staley has called a “cornerstone” of the program for the past four years, finished first overall.Sarah Steer/Getty Images

“I think Aliyah Boston is a legitimate first-choice option,” Dunn said in the week leading up to the draft. “I’ve watched her play closely this year. Her size, her basketball IQ, her personality, her leadership skills. She brings an enormous amount to the table… She will have an immediate impact on this league, and I’m just grateful — I think we are all — that she She opted to participate in the draft and did not use her fifth year of COVID.”

Boston joins a young group in Indianapolis that includes 2022’s second place finisher, Nalisa Smith of Baylor, and former Boston teammate from South Carolina, Destany Henderson.

The Fever also earned the seventh pick which they used to draft Indiana’s Grace Berger, who became the first player to be selected in the first round in Hoosiers program history.

The Seattle Storm, who recently lost Sue Bird to retirement, and Brenna Stewart to free agency, selected Tennessee’s Jordan Hurston in the ninth.

Zia Cooke became the third South Carolina player to be selected in the first round, going to the Los Angeles Sparks in the 10th overall. This is the tenth time that three or more players have been selected in the first round at any school (last time: Oregon in 2020).

Dallas caught Abby Myers of Maryland in the 11th, and Minnesota finished off the first round with a first-round pick of Maia Hirsch of France.

ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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