A’ja Wilson Establishing Herself as One of the Best


A’ja Wilson has been named the SEC Freshman of the Week for the third time this season, and it couldn’t have come at a bigger time.  After having a two week break, the Lady Gamecocks started their SEC conference play this past week with wins over both Auburn and LSU and Wilson was the team leader in both these victories.  Granted, as usual, this was a total team effort with star Tiffany Mitchell, Aleighsa Welch, fellow freshman Bianca Cuevas, and last year’s freshman phenom Alaina Coates all had big games as well.  But these two games were definitely breakout games for Wilson.
Wilson averaged 16.5 ppg, 11.5 rebounds per game, and also had 5 blocked shots over the two games.  These are fantastic numbers for any player, but this is a freshman playing in only her 13th and 14th games.  These are big games against conference opponents, coming after a two week break.  Then as if this wasn’t enough, she is on a team filled with outstanding players.  Mitchell was the SEC player of the Year last season as well as an All-American.  Coates was last year’s SEC Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American.  Welch was an All-American Honorable mention and two-time All-SEC.  Combine the fantastic players with some of the other strong players on the roster, and nobody would think twice if a freshman was hardly even playing.  Yet, Wilson also led the team in minutes played this past week as well.  It’s no wonder she was the SEC Freshman of the Week.

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For the year, Wilson is now leading the team in scoring at 14.5 ppg, 2nd in rebounds with 7.2 rpg, 1st in blocks, and 3rd in steals.  So she is clearly one of leaders on the Lady Gamecocks, which is saying a lot considering this team is 14-0 and #1 in the nation.  Her numbers may not put her at the top of the nation in categories, but that says more about the Gamecocks style of play and the sheer number of strong players on this team as well.  What the numbers don’t show is the impact she is having on other teams.  On defense, she is disrupting in the middle to say the least, and certainly her speed and quickness to go with 6’4″ size help her, but it is her presence that seems to create such havoc on other teams.  On offense, teams have a hard time figuring out how to handle her.  Down low, they have very few ways of stopping her.  But the bigger challenge is considering she is usually one of the tallest players on the floor, she handles the ball with ease, and every time it happens, you can almost see the other team’s look of surprise.

Wilson isn’t perfect.  It would be fair to compare her free-throw shooting to Shaquille O’Neal, and just improving that one thing would improve her points per game several points.  But she also has to stay focused when things get crazy under the basket.  Wilson missed 4-5 shots practically underneath the basket against Auburn, and considering she hasn’t taken a single three pointer all season, her overall field goal percentage could improve.  Certainly after 14 games, there had to be some things she needed to work on.  But ultimately, A’ja Wilson is already becoming a dominating player, and she’s only just begun.  If she’s this good already, there’s no doubt we’re going to be watching someone very special.  Certainly the three Freshman Player of the Week she’s already picked up are only the beginning.