Aliyah Boston could have very well been the National Player of the Year last season, and many believed she should have been. This season she is leaving no doubt about who will win the award. Boston was dominant her first two seasons, but she’s taken her game to a different level not just on the court but off of it too. She might even end up taking home the Defensive Player of the Year trophy, not to mention the National Championship she’s been coveting for the last two seasons.
Last season as a sophomore, Boston proved she was one of the best players in the country, averaging 13.7 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks on 48.5 percent shooting from the field. While her field goal percentage was down from her freshman season, she averaged more points, rebounds, and assists in her sophomore season. After a heartbreaking loss in the Final Four, she changed her mentality and her workout routine.
The way she has dominated so far in her junior season has been incredible to watch. She is currently averaging 17.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks on 57 percent shooting. Her double-double streak is up to 10 and that is now the most in program history, which held up for 45 years. Her three-point percentage is up to 34 percent from 26 percent last season.
The improvements did not come without hard work this offseason; she improved her vertical from 17” to 23”, ¾ court sprint from 3.44 to 3.03 seconds, and her deadlift from 300 to 350 lbs. Not to mention they have played some extremely talented players and teams. Eight of the 16 games South Carolina has played have been against top-25 ranked teams. She has held some elite players (that will be drafted to the WNBA in just a couple months), well below their season averages.
The legendary head coach of the South Carolina women’s basketball team, Dawn Staley, has known exactly what Boston needed to be her best. Just a few months ago, she told the media, “It’s time for Aliyah Boston to be the dominant player that she is.” I think it’s fair to say she’s answered that statement exactly the way coach Staley wanted her too. Then just a few days ago she told the media that Boston wants it all and is unlike anyone else.
Aliyah Boston is clearly on a mission and has been on a different level this season. It didn’t come out of nowhere, and should be more appreciated and talked about. She could end up winning two National awards, but if we know anything about her, it’s that she is focused on winning the National Championship that has escaped her in her first two seasons.