A’ja Wilson named to Lisa Leslie Award watch list

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina senior A’ja Wilson earned a spot on the Lisa Leslie Award Watch List as the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame tapped the top 20 female collegiate centers in the nation. Named for the three-time All-American and 1994 National Player of the Year, the annual award is in its inaugural year.

Wilson is on a path to become the most decorated Gamecock in the program’s history. She is one of five three-time All-America Gamecocks, including two season’s as a consensus first-team selection. The reigning two-time SEC Player of the Year is on track to become just the third Gamecock to record 2,000 career points and is likely to join Gamecock great Sheila Foster as the only two to match 2,000 points with 1,000 career rebounds.

The SEC’s leading returner in career rebounds and blocked shots, she holds the school record in the latter (258) and just outside the program’s top 10 in the former (804). She has scored in double figures in 90 of her career 105 games played, including 26 games of 20 or more points. A career 55.4 percent shooter, she finished the 2016-17 season ranked 14th in the nation at 58.8 percent accuracy.

The selection committee for the Lisa Leslie Award is composed of top college women’s basketball personnel including media members, head coaches, sports information directors and Hall of Famers. By mid-February the watch list of 20 players for the 2018 Lisa Leslie Award will be narrowed to just 10. In March, five finalists will be presented to Ms. Leslie and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee. Fans will also have the opportunity to vote for their favorite finalist. The winner of the 2018 Lisa Leslie Award will be announced at an inaugural awards ceremony hosted by the Basketball Hall of Fame, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and ESPN at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Columbus, Ohio. ESPN broadcast information will be released at a later date.

Reigning National Champion South Carolina opens the 2017-18 regular season on Fri., Nov. 10, taking on Alabama State at 7 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena. The No. 4/2 Gamecocks will unveil their championship banner and receive their 2017 SEC championship rings prior to the game. Both the game and the ring/banner ceremony will air live on SEC Network+.

Season tickets are still available, starting at $35 for general admission seating. Single-game tickets are also now on sale, beginning at $9 for adults and $5 for youth. Fans can purchase tickets online at GamecocksOnline.com or by calling the South Carolina Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-4SC-FANS (472-3267).

2018 Lisa Leslie Award Candidates

Kalani Brown, Baylor

Azura Stevens, Connecticut

Becca Jones, Drake

Erin Mathias, Duke

Chatrice White, Florida State

Alyssa Rice, Kentucky

Hallie Thome, Michigan

Teaira McCowan, Mississippi State

Cierra Porter, Missouri

Akela Maize, NC State

Vionise Pierre-Louis, Oklahoma

Kaylee Jensen, Oklahoma State

Marie Gulich, Oregon State

A’ja Wilson, South Carolina

Kristen Simon, Southern Cal

Shannon Coffee, Stanford

Mercedes Russell, Tennessee

Khaalia Hillsman, Texas A&M

Monique Billings, UCLA

Emily Potter, Utah

USC Athletics contributed to the writing of this article.