South Carolina women’s basketball’s senior forward Aliyah Boston is in Las Vegas, Nevada, practicing with the United States national women’s basketball team. Boston and the rest of the squad are preparing for the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup with a training camp from Sept. 5 through Sept. 12.
The tournament will tip off in less than two weeks in Sydney, Australia, and run from Sept. 22 to Oct. 1. During preparation and entering the tournament, Boston has one major objective in mind.
“My goal is definitely to just make the team and win gold and bring it back," Boston said. "I know this is definitely a fun trials that we’re at, very competitive and very great and talented girls. So, I’m just working hard with the intention of bringing home a gold."
The 12 teams that made the tournament have been split into two groups, Group A and Group B, for the group stage of the competition. The United States will compete in Group A against Belgium, China, South Korea, Puerto Rico, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The top four teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinal stage.
The group stage games will consist of six straight days of games from the tournament’s opening day until Sept. 27. The conclusion of the group stage will be followed by a rest day and then the championship bracket will be played out over three consecutive days, culminating with the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup final on Oct. 1.
Boston said she is grateful for the opportunity to compete and learn from WNBA talent and will not be fazed if her role with the national team is different from what she is used to.
“I think there will be probably be some differences between the roles, but over my past four years, coach Staley has always talked about just being able to embrace your role and so if my role is different on the national team than at school, then that’s just something I have to embrace and work through that and not try to do something that I’m not needed to do,” Boston said.
A faster pace and increased physicality are just two of the differences Boston noted between the collegiate and professional game. She emphasized the value of the camp in Las Vegas.
“It’s not just playing against college athletes, or it’s not just playing against rookies, but it’s playing against women that have been in the league for years," Boston said. "And so, being able to learn from them, seeing some stuff that they might do that I've never really thought about or the way that they’re able to be physical or even their defense or how they score, it’s just a lot that I’ve taken note of."
The United States won the most recent edition of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in 2018 after defeating this year’s hosts Australia in the final. Following this year’s tournament, the Gamecocks will begin the season in early November and Boston hopes to use her national team experience to fuel her performance in her senior season.
“I feel like I’m in shape for sure, so I hope that when I get back to school, whenever that is, coach Staley doesn’t have me doing all this running,” Boston said with a smile. “But I definitely think it’s going to help me, just my pace, because I know what this next level is at so just making sure when I’m back at school I’m running the floor continuously like I am here.”
In addition to high-level competition, Boston said she has also been able to discuss the step to the next level with WNBA rookies including Rhyne Howard and Shakira Austin who she competed against in the SEC last season.
“They definitely said it was a change, definitely change of pace, physicality was different and that it was definitely a step up from college," Boston said. "But, I mean, when I get there at the end of this season, God’s willing, then I will see for myself."
Throughout the experience of tryouts, training camp and the upcoming tournament, Boston embraces it all.
“It’s been worth it," she said. "I’m having a lot of fun, I'm learning a lot. It’s showing me an inside scoop of what the next level is like and so I’m just really glad that I’m here to experience that."