A statue of Gamecocks women's basketball alum, A'ja Wilson, was unveiled outside of Colonial Life Arena on Jan. 18.
Later that evening in Colonial Life, Aliyah Boston, the 6'5 sophomore forward, scored 26 points and had 16 rebounds, six blocks and three assists in a 104-82 victory over the No.15 Arkansas Razorbacks.
“A’ja was a powerful force in our program, our campus and our community through everything that she accomplished on the court, and the person she was off it,” head coach Dawn Staley said. “This statue in front of this arena is an equally powerful force. Every young person, and especially young black girls, can see what is possible through hard work, passion and dedication.”
During Wilson's four years at Carolina, the Gamecocks went 129-16, appeared in the 2021 NCAA tournament and won the 2017 National Championship. She was the team's leading scorer and second-leading rebounder in the 2016-17 National Championship season.
In her freshman season, Boston was named National Freshman of the Year and the Lisa Leslie Center of the Year. Boston had 13 double-doubles — the most by any freshman.
As the St. Thomas native continues to excel on the court, there has been a discussion as to how Boston compares to Wilson.
"Please give Aliyah her own lane, because that's who she is. She's worked so hard to get to just be Aliyah Boston," Wilson said. "She is just a woman amongst girls."
While Wilson started in one game during her freshman year, Boston was in the lineup as soon as she put on garnet and black.
Unlike Wilson, Boston was not able to surround herself with as many veterans and stars.
"A'ja had a team full of veterans on her team where she could just focus on her," Staley said about Wilson.
On the other hand, Staley said "We're asking Aliyah to do it all. Be a passer, scorer, rebounder, defender — be all things, and she's handled it extremely well."
In her two seasons with the Gamecocks, Boston has scored 837 points and had 667 rebounds, 167 blocks, 84 assists and 78 steals. This season, Boston averaged 13.7 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. She ranked twelfth nationally for rebounds per game and eighteenth for block per game.
Currently, Boston is fifth in program history for career blocked shots (167). In her two seasons, she has had multiple triple-doubles. Boston also holds the record of 13 for the most double-doubles in a season and of the most games started by a freshman at 33 games.
On April 4, Boston was named the 2021 Lisa Leslie Award winner for the second time. She is the first to ever win it twice.
"This award means so much to me because Lisa Leslie was such a beast on the court and to know that she thinks so highly of my game is a blessing," Boston said.
Wilson holds an array of records at Carolina and in the SEC. She ranks first in points (2,389), blocked shots (363) and free throws (597). In the SEC, Wilson holds the record for most points (1,020), free-throws made (249) and blocked shots (158). In her four-year career, Wilson had 1195 rebounds, 191 assists and 136 steals.
During their freshman years, Boston and Wilson were named SEC Freshman of the Year and All-SEC First Team.
Following her well-decorated career at Carolina, Wilson was the No.1 pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft. She is currently a forward for the Las Vegas Aces.
As for Boston, only time will tell as to whether she will surpass Wilson in the rankings and records. However, statistically, she is certainly on pace for something special and spectacular.
Correction (April 13, 2021, at 12:14 p.m.): A previous version of this article attributed the photo as being a photo illustration by Kailee Kokes. From left to right, the photo of Aliyah Boston is courtesy of the SEC media portal and the photo of A’ja Wilson was photographed by Abby Webb.