College Sports

Captain A’ja Wilson: Gamecock great named WNBA All-Star starter, leader

Former Gamecock and current Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson has earned yet another honor in her young WNBA career, getting named an All-Star starter and captain on Thursday.

As the second-leading fan vote getter, Wilson will serve as one of two captains for the 16th annual showcase, alongside Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics. The two will participate in a two-round draft from a pool of starters and reserves at an unannounced time to form their teams.

Through 15 games this season, Wilson is averaging 16.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, with a usage rate of 24.6%, a field goal percentage of 49.7%, a plus/minus average of 4.1 and a player impact estimate of 14.5, all top-20 marks in the league. She’s also averaging 2.3 assists per contest.

Defensively, Wilson has also become one of the league’s top players — she ranks 12th in defensive win shares and 19th in defensive rating among players with 10 or more starts. According to Basketball Reference, she ranks eighth in total win shares.

Among second-year players, Wilson leads the WNBA in scoring, rebounding, blocks and player impact estimate and is in the top 5 in net rating and assists.

Wilson was the only rookie named to last year’s All-Star Game and wound up coming off the bench, scoring 18 points and earning some MVP buzz. She is also the youngest starter this season.

Wilson and the Aces have become title contenders this season, aided by fellow All-Star starters Kayla McBride and Liz Cambage — Las Vegas currently leads the league with a 10-5 record.

Fan selections counted for 50 percent of the vote to determine the 10 starters. Current players and a national media panel accounted for 25 percent of the vote each.

Wilson checked in at No. 2 in the fan vote on July 2 and had been widely tipped to be a starter by national media outlets.

This year’s contest will take place on July 27 in Las Vegas at home arena of Wilson’s Aces. It will be broadcast on ABC at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. Reserves for the game, voted on by coaches, will be announced next Monday.

WNBA All-Star Starters

A’ja Wilson — Las Vegas Aces (captain)

Elena Delle Donne — Washington Mystics (captain)

Liz Cambage — Las Vegas Aces

Chelsea Gray — Los Angeles Sparks

Brittney Griner — Phoenix Mercury

Natasha Howard — Seattle Storm

Jonquel Jones — Connecitcut Sun

Jewell Loyd — Seattle Storm

Kayla McBride — Las Vegas Aces

Kia Nurse — New York Liberty

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.
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