Tonight Pretty and I, along with 12,000 of our closest friends, will say goodbye to Gamecock women’s basketball senior A’ja Wilson who will be playing her final regular season game at Colonial Life Arena. We are carrying plenty of tissues with us because we don’t want to see her leave us just yet. A’ja, we hardly knew ye.
A’ja Wilson has broken almost all the basketball records she could break in 4 years at the University of South Carolina, but tonight the young woman with the fabulous smile and wicked left hand will be breaking her countless fans’ hearts as she poses for senior pictures with her parents and Coach Staley before the LSU game.
My goodness, it’s hard to believe four years have passed since the teenage girl from Hopkins who went to elementary and high school right here at Heathwood Hall in Columbia began playing for Coach Staley and the Gamecocks. That shy girl who joined the team has been replaced by a young woman who is now clearly the team’s heart and soul…and fearless leader.
For those of us who have had the privilege of watching this remarkable young athlete step into the national spotlight with her superior statistics while never losing her love of her diverse fan base, exuberant dance, sense of fun, competition and most importantly the game of basketball, we can only say thank you for the memories you leave.
We wish you well at the next level wherever that may be and know that whether you are on a basketball court or a judge on the Supreme Court, you will always be a winner.
Pretty and I will see you tonight and will wave to you from the stands. We’ll be the ones waving white towels.