There’s a Reason A’ja Wilson Was Ranked #1


Having people say you are the #1 player in the entire nation has to be overwhelming at times, especially when you’re only a teenager.  Living up to that ranking has to be just as overwhelming.  Some like Brittany Griner, Andrew Wiggins, and Jadeveon Clowney all come to mind when you think of players who lived up to those rankings.  But then there were people like Greg Ogden and Byron Mullens who just never seemed to fulfill their potential.  A’ja Wilson was listed as the #1 women’s high school basketball player across thee nation, and literally took home just about every award possible last year, including leading Heathwood to the state championship.

That’s a lot of pressure, and then to step onto a team that went 29-5 last season with it’s own list of current stars, it could be challenging to find your place early on.  Just going to the college is a big life change, and no one would think anything about it if it took A’ja some time to really fit in and make an impact, no matter how good she was in high school.  Considering how good South Carolina was last year, it also could take a while before her teammates adapted to her role on the team as well.

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Well it’s taken A’ja Wilson no time at all to not only adapt, but show people why she was ranked #1 in the nation, and is already having a huge impact on the Gamecock’s basketball team.  She is barely second on the team in scoring, already averaging over 14 points a game with almost 55% shooting from the field.  She is also second on the team in rebounding pulling down 6.5 a game and almost half of those on the offensive board as well.  She’s tied for the lead in block shots, as her and Alaina Coates both have about 1.5 a game so far.  She’s also been aggressive going to the line as she leads the team in free throw attempts.  She’s doing all this coming off the bench as well, only starting in one game so far.  Many players who are or were #1 have a hard time ever accepting that they aren’t starting right away, but she hasn’t let that get to her, playing her role and helping the team wherever and whenever she is called upon to play.  In early December she was called upon and came through in a big way as she tipped in a putback with 1.8 seconds left in the game to lift the Gamecocks over #9 Duke 51-50.

All of this has helped lead the Gamecocks to a 12-0 start, where they have now been ranked as the #1 team in the nation for 5 straight weeks as well.  The team is averaging almost 80 points a game and winning by an average margin of more than 32 points a game.  In fact, they have been outstanding in just about every single category except free throw shooting, in which they are barely hitting 65% of their attempts.  This is the one area A’ja needs to work on as she gets to the line more than anyone else, but is only hitting about 65% of her attempts.

The team is on a 2 week break and gets back to work January 2 where they begin their SEC schedule against Auburn at home.  They play 6 games against Top 25 teams, including the biggest game of the year February 9 against #2 Connecticut.  So far the team has looked fairly unstoppable, and A’ja Wilson is a big part of the reason for that.