Las Vegas (April 12, 2018)—The Las Vegas Aces selected South Carolina forward, and unanimous national player of the year, A’ja Wilson, Thursday, with the number one overall pick of the 2018 WNBA Draft.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better addition to our franchise than A’ja Wilson,” said Aces President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Bill Laimbeer. “Her skill set is extraordinary. Her size, mobility, passing skills, defensive presence … you name it, she’s got it. A’ja has a desire to be the best player in the world, and we will work on her game to accomplish her goal.”
The 6-5 Hopkins, South Carolina native led the Gamecocks to the 2017 NCAA Championship as a junior, and was named national player of the year in 2018 by espnW, USA Today, the Associated Press, the USBWA, the WBCA and the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Wilson also won the Lisa Leslie Award, presented annually to the top center in the country.
As a senior, Wilson average 22.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 3.62 blocked shots per game. She finished her four-year career with averages of 17.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.62 blocked shots, while connecting on 55.0 percent of her field goal attempts.
With their second pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft, Las Vegas selected Tennessee guard/forward Jaime Nared. The 6-2 Nared increased her offensive output in each of her four seasons at Tennessee, and this year was the team’s top scorer at 16.7 points per game, and second-leading rebounder with 7.4 boards per game.
Nared is a two-time All-SEC First Team selection and was named to the WBCA and AP All-America Honorable Mention Teams. She also was a Miller Award Finalist as the top Division I small forward.
“We like what Nared brings to the table from a versatility standpoint,” said Laimbeer. “She does a lot of things well—she attacks the basket, she can shoot from perimeter, and she goes after rebounds.”
With the 25th pick in the draft, Las Vegas took Raigyne (Moncrief) Louis from LSU. A First-Team All-SEC selection as a senior and 2017 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Louis finished her collegiate career with averages of 13.3 points and 5.8 rebounds.
With the 32nd pick, the Aces selected Jill Barta from Gonzaga. Barta averaged 18.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in 2017-18.
At the conclusion of the draft, the Aces traded the rights to Barta, along with the team’s second round pick in 2019, to Minnesota in exchange for Ji-Su Park, whom the Lynx took with the 17th pick in the draft, and Kahlia Lawrence from Mercer, whom the Lynx selected with the 24th pick.
Ji-Su Park is a 19-year-old South Korean center who has played most recently with KB Stars in Seoul.
Lawrence led Mercer to the Southern Conference Championship this season, scoring 29 points in the championship game. She was also named the Southern Conference Player of the Year. Mercer dropped a five-point decision to #4 seed Georgia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.