- For nearly a decade, the Indiana Fever has been among the worst teams in the WNBA.
- Despite its struggles on the court, the series hasn’t landed a first WNBA Draft pick award — yet.
- The Fever Virtual Prize – South Carolina star Alia Boston – Worth the agonizing wait.
The stars are finally aligning with Indiana Fever.
“It’s damn time,” said general manager Lin Dun.
Being one of the weakest teams in the WNBA over the past several years, Indiana hasn’t put together a winning regular season since 10-time WNBA’s Tamika Catchings was the face of the franchise. In the six years since their legendary forward walked off the hardwood for the last time, the Fever have amassed a paltry 45-147 record and only once have they won more than 10 games in a season.
Indiana’s struggles on the field did not translate into franchise-changing draft picks
Unsurprisingly, the Fever has failed to qualify for the playoffs since Catchings’ retirement. But despite their troubles on the court — which has brought them to the WNBA Draft Lottery each of the past six years — the Fever haven’t landed a top overall pick. In fact, not once in the franchise’s 22-year existence has the team been selected first in the draft.
In all but one of the last six seasons, Indiana has had the best or second best odds to win first place. Instead, they finished with two No. 2 picks, two No. 3 picks, and a No. 4 pick. Only two players with said picks remain with the Fever today: Kelsey Mitchell (2018) and NaLyssa Smith (2022).
But on Friday, Indiana’s unlucky streak came to a halt. The league’s perennial winners finally get their much-desired #1 spot in the 2023 WNBA Draft.
And the hypothetical prize awaiting coach Christie Sides’ team may have been worth waiting for for many years.
Aaliyah Boston has dominated both sides of the ball in three years of college basketball
The 6-foot-5 University of South Carolina Aliyah Boston has been in charge of the NCAA since she was a first-time fit for the Gamecocks. St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands averaged an incredibly effective double in her career and added 2.5 blocks per game to boot.
During her junior season — her best yet — Boston broke the record held by WNBA legend Sylvia Fowles for Most consecutive double-doubles in the SEC. She finished the year with her Division I top thirty double-doubles, and unsurprisingly she swept the postseason honors as National Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.
But her most impressive piece of hardware came around tournament time, when she led South Carolina to its second-ever national championship and earned NCAA Tournament MVP honors for her historic efforts. The two-time First Team All-American’s 16.8 points and 15.2 rebounds per game during March Madness made her the first player ever to average 15 and 15 for an eventual title-winning team, ESPN Stats & Info.
It’s no wonder that Gino Oreima, the 11-time National League winning coach for the UConn Huskies, has called Boston “the hardest person in America to guard,” as well as “the most important person in the country in terms of what she does for her team.”
“It scores if there’s one, two, three, four people,” Auriemma said before facing Boston in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. “It doesn’t matter. She’s able to get the space she wants. She gets the ball on the rim whenever she wants. She bounces any ball that goes next. She just has talent.”
“How do we guard it? I don’t know,” he added. “I am open to suggestions.”
Perhaps most terrifying for any coach other than his name is Don Staley, Boston will get better from here.
Could Boston be the Messiah the fever has been waiting for?
Boston’s senior season started off more impressively than her junior year. Shooting 76.9% from the field, she set up two consecutive double-doubles—one of which came in the Gamecocks’ highest-ranked 25-point win against the 17-ranked Maryland Terrapins.
This year’s reigning female player of the year is bound to keep the momentum going in hopes of helping South Carolina return as national champions before turning to the pros. Boston previously confirmed to Insider that the 2022-23 season would be “my last year” with the Gamecocks, adding that it “will definitely be a special year” and that she and her teammates intend to “give her everything we’ve got”.
Barring disaster, Boston will be a top pick in the WNBA Draft next spring. And if her game takes to the pros in the way she most expects, she will have a massive and immediate impact on a team that undoubtedly needs it desperately.
Indiana’s leadership knows it’s true — and they celebrated accordingly as soon as news of Boston’s pick opportunity hit the airwaves:
—Indiana Fever ⛹️♀️🏀 (IndianaFever) November 12, 2022
The 2023 WNBA draft is scheduled to take place on April 10, just eight days after this season’s NCAA Championship game. If all goes according to plan, Boston will have an exciting few weeks next spring.