South Carolina women’s basketball senior forward Aliyah Boston has enjoyed another commanding season, leading the nation's No. 1 team to a so far perfect season while climbing up the record book.
Sunday’s double-double record was not the first accolade Boston has earned, and it likely won’t be the last. She has continued to excel on both ends of the court and helped the Gamecocks stay on top as the No. 1 team in the nation for 31 consecutive weeks, the fourth-longest streak of all time.
“I knew that it would be cool to get (the double-double record) at home, and so before the game, I did think about it,” Boston said. “Once you get into the flow of it, it’s kind of like, if it happens it happens. I didn’t even know that I broke it, and coach Staley was like ‘Congrats.’”
Boston's efforts on the court have earned her spots on multiple midseason award watchlists this year. On Jan. 4, it was announced that she was on the Wooden Midseason Top 25 List, and on Jan. 11, it was announced that she earned a spot on the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's Player of the Year watch list. She was also named on the top-15 watch list for Defensive Player of the Year and could become the first ever repeat winner of the award should she win.
“Mentally tough, mentally strong. Those are separators for Aliyah,” head coach Dawn Staley said. “You can’t do what she does without having that, you can’t do what she does without being able to endure. I mean, she is physically being punished and she just fights through.”
Since arriving at South Carolina, Boston has been adding awards and records to her career resume. When her time with the program is complete, she will go down as one of the best to ever wear garnet and black.
“I think one of the best things about Aliyah is like she said, she doesn’t even know that she’s doing the things that she’s doing. She’s just going out there playing hard and giving her all to the team,” senior guard Zia Cooke said. “It’s definitely a blessing to play with somebody like her, someone that’s helping us break records and leading us literally every day.”
Boston will likely finish her Gamecock career in the top 10 for scoring and games played. She’ll finish second in blocks and could end up being the program’s all-time leader in rebounds. Boston trails the current leader, Sheila Foster (who played from 1979-82), by 104 rebounds.
“You got to be a go-getter. Just keep going, keep attacking, keep rebounding,” Boston said. “My teammates, they do a great job of just pushing me no matter what, and I just try to help them by rebounding.”
Boston’s averages have dipped since last season, going from 17 points per game to 13 and 13 rebounds per game to 10, but this is because the 2023 team has multiple players that are helping to ease her workload.
While Boston has been able to share more responsibilities, the team has improved its per-game averages in almost every statistical category. The team’s scoring has improved from 71 to 83 points per game, rebounding from 48 to 51 per game and assists from 14 to 17 per game. The team has also seen increased steals, blocks, field goal and free throw averages.
With nine games left until the SEC tournament, the Gamecocks is 20-0 overall and 8-0 in the SEC. Since the beginning of the conference play, Boston has had some of her best performances.
Boston had her two highest-scoring games against conference opponents when she scored 21 points against Kentucky on Jan. 12 and 20 points against Missouri on Jan. 15. She also had her two highest rebounding performances against SEC foes, securing 15 against Mississippi State on Jan. 8 and 14 against Arkansas on Jan. 22.
“Now she’s at a place where you really can’t stop her,” Staley said. “You can slow her down by — maybe she won’t get a double-double, but she’ll have eight blocks, she would have been fouled 10 times. There is something to be said about her ability to just continue to fight through.”
Ending the season unbeaten would add another accomplishment to Boston’s legacy. The program had a one-loss season during the shortened COVID-19 year and a had two-loss seasons twice, but never an undefeated one. If Boston and the Gamecocks can remain undefeated this year, they would be the 10th team ever to go unbeaten and would be the first since the 2015-16 Connecticut Huskies.
“She certainly, you can argue, has a pretty darn big impact in the history books as she keeps checking off different things,” Staley said. “If she brings us home another one, that puts her in a class by herself.”
Wilson has a statue outside Colonial Life Arena, but Boston said there should be no pressure to place one of her next to it.
“(A’ja) was that player. I think her presence is a big reason as to why all of us is here,” Boston said. “That statue, it just means something different. I think it means more than the stats that appear on the stats sheet … if they don’t put one, I’m chilling. I’m vibing, that one out there looks good.”