The Las Vegas Aces kicked off the WNBA Draft on Thursday with the selection of South Carolina forward A’ja Wilson, a talented post presence who averaged 22.6 points per game last season for the 29-7 Gamecocks.
And as excited as Wilson was to hear her name called first in the draft, she seems to have been just as thrilled to get a congratulatory message from her favorite NBA player, Blake Griffin.
In a video tweeted from the NBA’s official account, Wilson watches a video from Griffin, geeks out substantially, then watches it again. The second time, she responds to Griffin as if he can hear her. At the end, she pauses and asks, “OK, how can I get this video?”
Then she got a surprise message from her longtime favorite player, @BlakeGriffin23.
— NBA (@NBA) April 13, 2018
Wilson was widely expected to be the first pick of the Aces, who just migrated from San Antonio (where they were the Stars and before that the Silver Stars) to Vegas. At 6-foot-5, she has the tools to be a superstar in the pros, and she flashed abundant potential during a storied college career that ended with a national Player of the Year award this past season. She’ll attempt to turn around a franchise coming off three consecutive last-places finishes.
With the Aces’ pick an inevitability, the real drama Thursday night came next. With Wilson off the board, the Indiana Fever selected high-scoring Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell at No. 2 overall. Then the Chicago Sky nabbed the skilled but enigmatic Diamond DeShields, who bounced from North Carolina to Tennessee to Turkey on her path to the pros, and followed up by picking do-it-all UConn star Gabby Williams.
Here’s how the entire first round played out:
- Las Vegas Aces — A’Ja Wilson, South Carolina
- Indiana Fever — Kelsey Mitchell, Ohio State University
- Chicago Sky — Diamond DeShields, Turkey
- Chicago Sky — Gabby Williams, UConn
- Seattle Storm — Jordin Canada, UCLA
- Dallas Wings — Azura Stevens, UConn
- Washington Mystics — Ariel Atkins, Texas
- Indiana Fever — Victoria Vivians, Mississippi State
- Connecticut Sun — Lexie Brown, Duke
- New York Liberty — Kia Nurse, UConn
- Los Angeles Sparks — Maria Vadeeva, Russia
- Phoenix Mercury — Marie Gulich, Oregon State University
Full draft results can be found here.