Former NCAA champion at South Carolina Aliyah Boston was unanimously voted WNBA Rookie of the Year this past month. Boston becomes the first player to win unanimously since fellow South Carolina alumni A’ja Wilson in 2018. When asked about what this award means to her, Boston credits her professional success to her college coach: “It means a lot, but I think it also shows what coach (Dawn) Staley does at South Carolina and just the top players she produces,” Boston commented in a press conference. “So that’s really exciting to be in that category with A’ja.”
Boston was the first overall pick in 2023, and quickly got to work. She proved the Indiana Fever right in choosing her, starting her career out on a mission. In the regular season, Boston led all rookies in almost every category; scoring (14.4), rebounds (8.4), blocks (1.3), and steals (1.3). The former Gamecock started every game for Indiana, averaging 31.2 per game, the most of any rookie this season. Boston became the first rookie to lead the WNBA in field goal percentage (57.8%). The Fever’s star forward ranks second all time for most rebounds in a rookie season (335) and third for most field goals by a rookie (223). Boston set a Fever franchise record for most blocks in a rookie season with 50, along with the second most steals (53) and points scored (578) by an Indiana Fever rookie. Along with leading all rookies in points, rebounds, and blocks, Boston recorded 11 double-doubles. Her prolific start earned her a starting spot in the All-Star Game, becoming the eighth rookie to start in an All-Star Game, and the first since 2014. Boston was named 2023 Rookie of the year on September 12, becoming the second Fever player to be named ROY, along with Tamika Catchings. Boston starred in the all-rookie team alongside Washington’s Li Meng, Seattle’s Jordan Horston, Minnesota’s Dorka Juhasz and Diamond Miller.
Boston is already having an impact on the Fever. The Fever have more than doubled their wins this season with 13. Although they didn’t make the playoffs for the seventh straight year,they will likely win the draft lottery and get the No. 1 pick for the second straight year. Two No. 1 picks would significantly increase the Fever’s chances of making the playoffs next year. Bringing in a player like Caitlin Clark or Paige Bueckers to play alongside Boston could make the Fever a formidable force.
Boston didn’t just become a star, she was always destined for greatness and her parents knew this. Boston was born in St, Thomas, Virgin Islands, and a decade ago her parents Cleone and Algernon Boston decided to leave their two daughters with an aunt in Massachusetts. Aliyah was 10 years old and her older sister Alexis was 12. They both loved basketball, but knew they didn’t have the same opportunities in St. Thomas. They decided it was best to move to the Northeast for access to AAU tournaments and exposure camps. Cleone and Al wanted to give their daughters a chance at earning college scholarships. Aaliyah attended Worcester Academy, and dominated New England basketball. Her team won two state championships and Boston won three consecutive Massachusetts Player of the Year awards from Gatorade, and one from USA Today. She became an All-American her senior year. She also starred internationally, winning four gold medals on Team USA and becoming MVP of the 2017 FIBA U16 Americas Cup.
When Boston started her career at South Carolina, she quickly proved herself as one of the best players in WBB history. She again racked up awards including SEC Freshman of the Year (2020), 3x AP first-team All-American (2021–2023), 2x SEC Player of the Year (2022, 2023), Naismith College Player of the year (2022), 2x Naismith Defensive Player of the Year (2022, 2023), Associated Press Women’s college Basketball Player of the Year (2022), NC Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Boston has always been a star, and looks to rival players like her idol Candace Parker in the future.