Following the Gamecocks’ national championship victory, standout junior forward Aliyah Boston added to her award haul as she was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
After a 23-point, 18-rebound performance in the national semifinal against Louisville, Boston piled on an additional 11 points and 16 rebounds in the decisive championship game to help her squad take down the Connecticut Huskies.
Boston said when she was growing up in the U.S. Virgin Islands, her initial dream was to go to college on a full scholarship, but as those dreams became a reality, she began to dream even bigger.
“As I started to grow older and really pay attention to basketball, it was like I want to win a national championship and go to a school where I’m appreciated. And now looking back at that little girl, she’s probably really excited because we’ve done everything that we’ve wanted to do since we were little,” Boston said.
Head coach Dawn Staley made sure to give Boston her flowers following the championship that capped a post-season run for the forward where she averaged 20.2 points and 18.2 rebounds per game.
“You know, I’m incredibly happy for Aliyah because, one, I think a player like Aliyah doesn’t realize her power,” Staley said. “I’ve been around a lot of great basketball players who have been dominant, and I saw it in her, and I would not allow her to be anything less than that.”
Just before tip-off of the championship game on Sunday, Boston was named the winner of the Lisa Leslie Award for the third consecutive season. The award recognizes the top center in women’s Division I basketball.
“I think I’ve been doing the same thing all year, just being consistent,” Boston said on Saturday ahead of the title game. “I’m just going to make sure I’m dominant going into this game on Sunday.”
Boston did just that and finished the season with 30 double-doubles, including a streak of 27 consecutive with at least 10 points and 10 rebounds. That streak shattered Sylvia Fowles’s previous SEC record of 19 in a row.
Before the Final Four festivities and games tipped off in Minneapolis, Boston was already bringing home hardware. On Thursday, Boston was named the Naismith Player and Defensive Player of the Year alongside WBCA, USBWA and AP Player of the Year honors.
She also shared her excitement for the overall progression of the women’s game amid her decorated season which coincides with the 50th anniversary of Title IX.
“Having a sold-out crowd here for March Madness is like wow, who would’ve thought, if women weren’t given the opportunity to be able to play, we wouldn’t even be here right now, and we wouldn’t even be talking,” Boston said. “So, I’m just excited to see everything that’s happened, and I’m excited for the future to see how much more it’s going to grow.”
With regards to how this season’s victorious result will affect her goals for the 2022-2023 season, national champion Boston delivered a simple, yet powerful, response.
“Same as this year,” Boston said.