Dec. 22, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina sophomore forward A’ja Wilson was named 2015 USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year for her performance at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Chekhov, Russia, this summer.
“A’ja’s performance this past summer at the FIBA U19 World Championship was impressive,” said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO/Executive Director. “She was a team leader statistically and in the huddle, and she played with tremendous leadership and sportsmanship. USA Basketball is proud to recognize her with this honor.”
The MVP of the tournament, Wilson scored a USA U19 women’s single-game record 30 points against Russia in the championship game and her 18.3 points per game were the second-best all-time in the USA Women’s U19 record books. She set a U.S. women’s U19 single-game record for field goal attempts (21) and tied the mark for field goals made (11) against Russia, and she became just the fourth USA athlete to participate in and claim two U19 gold medals after also winning gold at the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championships.
“She had a great summer,” said South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, who was also Wilson’s head coach on the USA U19 World Championship team. “She looked like a veteran. That was her third or fourth international competition, so she understood what was needed of her. She scored a lot of points and rebounded the ball very well, and she made her entire team look good.”
Among all the participants in the 16-team field, Wilson ranked second in scoring, fourth in field goal percentage, tied for eighth in blocked shots, ninth in rebounds and tied for 10th in steals. Four times she led or tied for the team lead in scoring, and she reached double-digit points in all seven games.
“It means the world to me,” Wilson said. “It’s really something that I am honored to be, considering some of the girls that have won it in the past. It’s a great feeling.”
Wilson also helped the USA to a 3-0 exhibition record and the tournament championship at the 2015 Spain U19 International Invitational at Murcia, Spain, with wins over Australia, Canada and Spain. During exhibition play, she averaged team-bests of 18.0 points and 10.3 rebounds, while shooting 45.9 percent from the field.
This marks the 36th time USA Basketball has presented its Female Athlete of the Year award, which was established in 1980 to recognize a USA Basketball athlete who, during the year of the award, made a significant impact on the success of her team’s performance. Staley is among the recipients of the award, earning it twice (1994, 2004).