2020 has given the basketball world a glimpse at something South Carolina Gamecock fans have known for some time now.
A’ja Wilson’s star is bright and will continue to rise.
On the court fans watched as the No. 1 recruit in the nation set numerous records and eventually lead the program to its first ever national championship. She created a legacy so impressive that the school approved a to have a statue erected in her honor.
Her tenacity on the court has translated at the next level as she earned MVP honors and willed her team to 2020 WNBA Finals in just her third season.
This year has not just as seen not just her game grow and expand, but her impact off the court as well.
In July, just days before starting her third season with the Las Vegas Aces, Wilson penned a letter in the Player’s Tribune entitled “Dear Black Girls, to encourage young black girls to embrace their uniqueness and move boldly through a world that will try to stifle them.
In the piece, she reflected on a number of incidents in her life that helped shape her world view, including seeing her former coach, Dawn Staley deal with racism just moments after winning that first title.
"And I’ve still seen it happen with her. When we won the NCAA championship in 2017, you know what we heard almost immediately?" Wilson wrote. "We’re talking about the first women’s basketball championship in the state of South Carolina. And you know what it was, almost before we could even get the banner up in the rafters?
'Coach Staley doesn’t recruit white players. Why doesn’t she recruit our white girls?'
You had a team of 12 Black girls working their tails off. No, working their asses off. To achieve history. Under a Black female head coach. And it still felt like a significant part of our community didn’t want to celebrate it fully. On social media, it was the worst.
It doesn’t stop there Wilson continues to speak out and was most recently featured in a sports-focused series on Instagram entitled #SeeMe earlier this week.
“I am a black woman before I am anything else,” Wilson says to start her three-minute video.
She goes on to discuss her involvement with the WNBA Social Justice Council and the decision to join and make her voice heard was a no-brainer.
Wilson encourages others to remain vocal about issues they are passionate about.
"Don't be silenced. Always know that you have a voice," she said.
The Aces hit the floor Friday to compete in the franchise’s first WNBA Finals against the favorited Seattle Storm.
With the lights at their brightest on the league’s biggest stage, expect Wilson to rise to the occasion.