COLUMBIA — The nation’s top women’s basketball recruit won’t be a Tar Heel next season.
A’ja Wilson, ranked No. 1 by ESPNW, chose South Carolina over North Carolina, Tennessee and national champion Connecticut on Wednesday. Her announcement was broadcast on ESPNU from her high school gymnasium at Heathwood Hall, just 10 minutes down the road from the South Carolina campus.
Wilson, a native of South Carolina, told the coaches of her top four schools less than an hour before she told the world her decision.
“South Carolina is on the rise, and I would just love to be a part of it,” Wilson said. “Coach (Dawn) Staley has just done such a great job turning the program around. I just thought that was my best fit.”
A 6-foot-5 forward, Wilson averaged 35 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks during her senior season. She was a McDonald’s all-American and was named the girls’ basketball player of the year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and Parade Magazine.
She is the first player from South Carolina to win the Naismith Trophy for the best girls’ basketball player in the country.
The Tar Heels defeated the Gamecocks in the NCAA tournament last month to advance to the Elite Eight. UNC has one other five-star player signed, Jamie Cherry, according to ESPNW. UNC doesn’t lose any seniors from this season’s team, and Sports Illustrated has ranked the Tar Heels No. 2 in its early preseason rankings.
Wilson’s father, Roscoe Wilson, said geography wasn’t a big factor in her decision, but A’ja donned a T-shirt with a Gamecocks logo that read, “There’s no place like home.”
“It was all about where A’ja fit in and where she was comfortable,” said Eva Wilson, A’ja’s mother. “It was definitely her choice, and she had to feel it.”