Not even an hour after winning the 2022 women's basketball national championship in Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 3, Aliyah Boston was asked if the triumph would affect her mindset moving forward and what her goals were for the next season.
Without hesitation, Boston responded, “Same as this year.”
An eventful off-season followed for the forward, who is now in her senior year at South Carolina. Boston made appearances for NIL deals, went home to the U.S. Virgin Islands and joined the U.S. women’s national basketball team for a training camp in Las Vegas.
Boston was recently voted Preseason SEC Player of the Year and earned a spot on the Preseason All-SEC First Team. She also landed a unanimous nod to the AP Preseason All-American list, among several other awards.
If Boston continues to be the best player on the best team in the country, she will likely continue as SEC Player of the Year after winning the award last season. If she makes the All-SEC First Team as predicted by the media, then it will mark her fourth consecutive season being named to the ceremonial squad.
“I think with the awards last year, that was really incredible for me," Boston said. "I’m just so thankful to God for it, but I think it would be cool to do it again."
Gearing up for another season comes with its challenges, especially following such a successful year for Boston individually and the South Carolina team as a whole. Becoming complacent is one of Staley's concerns for the squad.
"Now that we've won a national championship ... for the coaches it is how you keep them challenged in a way that has them thinking 'win another one.' They're built like that but you still have to challenge them," Staley said in September.
Boston and her teammates will work to avoid resting on their laurels by focusing on consistently improving and helping each other with the little things, she said.
“Fine-tuning, making sure that we know what coach wants from us and just making sure we’re able to share that with the freshman,” Boston said.
Finding the drive within to be better each day coming off a consensus National Player of the Year season seems like a tall task from an outsider’s perspective. But Boston was quick to point out shooting the three, her "outside game" and "beating people off the dribble" as areas in which she wants to improve.
“I definitely think I can improve all-around," Boston said.
Cooke, Boston’s teammate since their freshman year, is more experienced with beating people off the dribble, but she left no question about Boston’s abilities when she spoke about her fellow senior following a women’s basketball practice.
“Aliyah is going to do her thing, of course,” Cooke continued. “Aliyah, she’s just the top dog. That’s just period, point blank.”
Boston knows how much dedication is required to play each game with the goal of winning the national championship in the back of her mind.
“We know that we want to repeat, and we also understand that it was hard to win the national championship in general, so it’s not like we can just walk in here and say we’re going to win every game,” Boston said.
With a potential professional career in the WNBA on the horizon, Boston will be hard-pressed to find an award or title that she has not earned in her already decorated college career. Instead, she turns inward to push herself to even greater heights.
“I’m just focusing on how to get better,” Boston said.
Editor's note: Michael Sauls contributed to the reporting in this article.