WNBA: A’ja Wilson Reveals How She Went From ‘Hating Sports’ To Being Drafted No. 1 Overall

HollywoodLife was at the 2018 WNBA Draft on April 12, where we met with the No. 1 pick, A'ja Wilson, whose future almost didn't consist of sports, period. Here's how she turned it around to join the Las Vegas Aces!

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A new era of basketball players entered the WNBA when the draft took place in New York City at Nike Headquarters on April 12. Ahead of the big night — where 12 collegiate players were selected to play at the highest level of women’s basketball that there is — we had the privilege of sitting down with A’ja Wilson, 21, who would later be the No. 1 overall pick. The Las Vegas Aces proved all of the rumors to be true, when WNBA President, Lisa Borders announced that they had selected Wilson to join their coveted roster. Moriah Jefferson, 24, already an essential part of that roster, also spoke with HollywoodLife.com, where she provided a sneak preview of what’s to come from the Aces this season.

First, let’s get to Wilson’s intriguing story. You may have heard the fleeting chatter about how Wilson wanted nothing to do with basketball, or any sport for that matter. Then again, how could one believe such a thing about the powerhouse ball player who was selected No. 1 overall, right? Well, it’s all true for the most part. “I was 13-years-old,” Wilson began. “I really didn’t feel like doing anything. I hated sports, and couldn’t get a feel for anything.” But, since her father played basketball, he wanted her to become more involved with game.

“So, he got me into this club team and I started off… I was awful,” Wilson admitted, adding that she didn’t play a single minute on the floor. “I was on the bench all the time. I was a little skinny thing. I looked awful.” But, seeing her teammates locked in on floor is what gave her the realization that would change her life forever.

“I really started to see the joy in my teammates when they were winning, and then I wanted to contribute,” Wilson explained. “I got in the gym with my dad and started working out. Then, things just got real and serious from there. I really started gaining that passion for the sport… Now, I’m here.”

Now, Wilson is here indeed. She is now part of the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA. Leading up to draft night, where her mother sat proudly in front of the stage, Wilson had done things on a collegiate level at South Carolina that most players only dream about. In fact, she’s been the most dominate woman in college basketball. Wilson won every national award this year — Player of the Year, the Lisa Leslie Award winner as the nation’s best center, and the list goes on.

While Wilson is still taking it all in, her South Carolina basketball family has made her transition into the WNBA a little easier. “They’re very proud of me,” Wilson said of her SC teammates. “They’re the ones that know me the best, and they’ve said, ‘You’ve come a long way from not wanting to play the game, to being drafted.’ So I just try to give all my thanks to them, because without them, there is no me. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play as well as I do some games without them. When they say they’re proud of me, I say, ‘Be proud of yourself because you helped me get this.'”

As for South Carolina Head Coach, Dawn Staley? — “Oh goodness,” Wilson quipped, laughing about the memories they’ve shared. “Coach, she’s been a second mother to me. She’s been so helpful to me, whether it’s basketball or not basketball. She’s just been there for me no matter what… I sent her a text and said, ‘I’m nervous.’ She’s like, ‘I know, A’ja, but you just have to keep going. This is the next step chapter.’ She’s always encouraging and helpful and that’s why I love her,” Wilson continued.

Now, the 21-year-old is “slowly but surely,” preparing herself for her WNBA debut with the Aces. Although she’s “mentally and physically” going to have to step it up, Wilson’s vowed to remain humble. “Coach Staley always to me to be true to myself and be me,” Wilson recalled. “That’s always stuck with me and that’s what I’ve been trying to do — Being A’ja no matter what.”

Earlier we mentioned Moriah Jefferson, who came to the WNBA from UCONN in 2016, and made a splash in the league when she was drafted 2nd overall. To this day, she continues to break barriers and give it her all every time she steps on the court. Now, Jefferson will share the floor with Wilson. While we spoke to Jefferson before Wilson was officially drafted, she told us what it is that she herself will bring to the Aces.
“Really starting as a floor leader,” Jefferson said of how she will help her team. “There was a lot of things that I learned about at UCONN and one was good habits. So, if you get used to doing something, and you do it the same way every single day, then once you do it that way, you don’t know how to do anything wrong. — I will bring that mentality to practice and training camp. And, the beginning of the season is the most important part and gain that chemistry and what Coach Bill wants from all the players and then kind of putting that all together.”
Here’s the complete 2018 WNBA Draft results: 

1. Las Vegas Aces: A’Ja Wilson – South Carolina

2. Indiana Fever: Kelsey Mitchell – Ohio State University

3. Chicago Sky: Diamond DeShields – Turkey

4. Chicago Sky: Gabby Williams – UConn

5. Seattle Storm: Jordin Canada – UCLA

6. Dallas Wings: Azura Stevens – UConn

7. Washington Mystics: Ariel Atkins – Texas

8. Indiana Fever: Victoria Vivians – Mississippi State

9. Connecticut Sun: Lexie Brown – Duke

10. New York Liberty: Kia Nurse – UConn

11. Los Angeles Sparks: Maria Vadeeva – Russia

12. Phoenix Mercury: Marie Gulich – Oregon State University