Las Vegas Aces forward, A’ja Wilson led her team to a WNBA Finals Championship this week. Under the Coach of the year, Becky Hammon, and surrounded by some great players, Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum. As the No. 1 seed in the regular season, the Aces made history finishing the season as Champions. We will highlight A’ja Wilson facts on her remarkable journey.
A’ja Wilson attended South Carolina University playing under Dawn Staley. In her four years with the Gamecocks, Wilson won Rookie of the Year, 3 SEC Player of the year awards, 2 SEC Defensive Player of the year awards, NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Players and more. The young legend continues to shine bright in the WNBA winning many awards and being the winner she is known to be. Here are somethings you may not know about #22 A’ja Wilson:
1. The youngest WNBA player ever to have two Most-Valuable-Player Awards
One of the most notable A’ja Wilson facts is that she breaks records. In her rookie season, 2018 Wilson was the WNBA Rookie of the year. She came in exhibiting her dominant presence in the paint, her IQ and overall talent. Two seasons after, in 2020 she was awarded with her first WNBA MVP award. Currently at the age of 26 Wilson has won her second MVP Award becoming the youngest WNBA player to do so. Wilson is not only the 2022 WNBA Most Valuable Player but she is also the Defensive Player of the year another first for the Aces Star.
2. Living out her dad’s dream
As a kid she did not want to play basketball. In fact, she believed her dad was torturing her when he would push her to workout. Wilson enjoyed playing volleyball, running track, dancing, art, music and more but it took a minute for her heart to find basketball. As her dad, Roscoe Wilson Jr. , coached her through a popular layup drill called the Mikan drill he saw a vision for his daughter. Her dad as a former basketball player himself saw potential in young A’ja. Wanting her to be the best and reach this full potential he envisioned, Roscoe turned up the intensity as a coach for her. As Wilson got older the severity of the workouts picked up.
Roscoe played at Benedict College, at the time he enrolled South Carolina University had no African American athletes. He explains how he would have loved to play there. However, his path took him a different route. After college he went on to play professional basketball overseas in Europe for 10 years. Known for his rebounding talent he embedded some of his skills into his daughter when introducing her to and teaching her the game, which is evident through Wilson.
3. First female athlete to sign with Ruffles
Wilson signed an endorsement deal with the Chip brand Ruffles becoming the first female athlete to have a contract with the official chip ambassador of the WNBA. Ruffles introduced their new product, Ruffles Ridge Twists with Wilson’s on signature flavor. The item bag features her picture on the front of the bag and the signature flavor is Smoky BBQ which is Wilson’s favorite. As a kid she claims to have eaten Ruffles a lot and now she is making history bringing her southern roots along wit her.
4. First draft pick ever for the Las Vegas Aces
The Las Vegas Aces relocated in 2018 to become the first WNBA franchise in Paradise, Nevada. Originally founded in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1997, the team was called the Utah Starzz. The team moved to San Antonio, Texas to become the San Antonio Stars in 2013.
In the 2018 WNBA draft as the number one overall pick the Las Vegas Aces selected their first ever draft pick, A’ja Wilson. Wilson would later lead the franchise to its first WNBA championship title.
5. Diagnosed with Dyslexia in her sophomore year of high school
As a kid Wilson struggled to read and write. She remembers was called on to read aloud in school and feeling embarrassed. Her learning disorder was often confused for laziness. In her sophomore year of high school, she was officially diagnosed with dyslexia. However, it took some time for her to accept it. She did so in college, opening up to her professors and teammates with the help of her coach Dawn Staley. Staley encouraged Wilson in many ways allowing her to gain confidence.
As a result, the A’ja Wilson Foundation was founded by Wilson and her parents, Eva And Roscoe. The foundation is a resource for kids with dyslexia and their families. The purpose is to empower these kids with educational workshops and opportunities to help them succeed. The foundation also looks to prevent bullying and provide mentoring for kids with learning disabilities like Wilson.
6. Joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
In Fall 2017 at South Carolina University Wilson was initiated into the Theta Gamma Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Founded in 1908 the sorority is the first black sorority. Seems like A’ja Wilson is all about firsts. She proudly rocks her pink and green.
WNBA president, Lisa Borders who is also an AKA, announced the first pick of the 2018 WNBA draft. Wilson approached the stage in her pink dress and both women posed holding up the AKA hand symbol.
7. Championship winner at every level of basketball
As a senior in high school Wilson led Heathwood Hall Episcopal to the 2014 state championship after finishing as championship runner ups the previous year. This was just the beginning for Wilson who would go on to win many more championships. In 2017 her junior year at South Carolina University Wilson became a NCAA Champion. This championship is the first NCAA title in the school’s history. In 2021 she played for team USA in the Tokyo Olympic Games and won her first gold medal. Now in 2022 Wilson has won the 2022 WNBA Commissioners Cup and most importantly the WNBA Championship. Wilson has accomplished many wins in her career and earned many awards for her talents. As a young prospect she will continue to make many more firsts.
Did you know about these A’ja Wilson facts? What was the most fascinating for you?