South Carolina star Aliyah Boston has been dominant since her childhood days of playing in the US Virgin Islands’ sports, parks and recreation league. After a dominant 2021–22 regular season and strong play in this year’s women’s NCAA tournament, the St. Thomas native and the Gamecocks sit one game away from making an appearance in the women’s national championship game on Sunday.
The Gamecocks will look for redemption in their Final Four matchup on Friday against a talented Louisville team that is no stranger to success in the NCAA tournament.
Since Jeff Walz was hired as Louisville’s coach in 2007, the Cardinals have made four appearances in the Final Four and have made the Big Dance in every season in his tenure except 2010. However, in its last two title game appearances (2008–09, 2012–13), Louisville has come up short. The Cardinals will look to change the narrative when its faces the Gamecocks.
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In the 2021 Final Four, South Carolina lost to Stanford on Boston’s missed put-back in the final seconds of the game. However, the junior forward put the heartbreaking moment behind her before the start of the season and hopes to lead the Gamecocks to the second national title in program history.
In this week’s Sports Illustrated Weekly podcast, South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley spoke with SI’s Wilton Jackson about Boston’s dominance and her desire to win a national title.
“She [Boston] is everything that you would want a player to be maintenance low maintenance, hard working, insatiable desire to get better. She wants it, and she’s the best teammate, ”Staley said. “She wanted her teammates and herself to experience what it’s to win a championship for everybody.”
Heading into Friday’s game, Boston has been the recipient of women’s college basketball’s highest awards. The forward was named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, the Naismith Player of the Year and the Associated Press Player of the Year.
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Boston also received the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association 2022 Wade Trophy (given to the best upperclass women’s basketball player in the country), reiterating why Staley has always felt Boston was a special talent.
“As we can see, there’s nothing like her in the country,” Staley said on the podcast.
However, personal achievements and accolades are not Boston’s focus. Winning a national title and her zeal for perfecting her craft keep her grounded in the process to becoming the best player she can be now and later.
“I want to go to the [WNBA] league and there are a lot of talented women in the league and there are also not a lot of roster spots, ”Boston said. “You can not say ‘I am going to start working on my craft when I get to the league,’ because then it is going to be way to late ‘and you need that work ethic when you get there…”
Check out the SI Weekly podcast ahead of the big game on Friday to learn more about Boston’s relationship with her family, her move from St. Thomas to Boston for her basketball endeavors, the role of Staley in her life and the evolution of her multicolored braids.
As a small spoiler, Boston has contributed her two highest points per game averages when her braids were maroon and orange respectively. When she notched her two highest rebounds per game averages this season, her braids were in a combination of pink and purple followed by purple.
Friday’s game is set for 7 pm ET.
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