Wilson's talents are on the court are undeniable. She embraces a leadership role with a strong voice that carries off it. She's an outspoken advocate for social justice and equal pay for women's basketball players.
And as the WNBA picks up steam and Becky Hammon begins to turn the Las Vegas Aces into an unstoppable dynasty, it's time to understand just how talented Wilson is and how insanely underpaid she is right now.
High School Career
A'ja Ridyadh Wilson was born on August 8, 1996 in Hopkins, South Carolina. She was a standout at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, where she averaged 24.7 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 4.3 blocks.
Wilson led the Highlanders to a state-runner up finish as a junior and a state championship as a senior. She was named the National High School Player of the Year, a Parade All-American, and a McDonald's All-American in 2014.
As the No.1 recruit in the country, Wilson committed to the play for the University of South Carolina Gamecocks.
— NCAA Champion (2017)
— NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player (2017)
— Consensus National Player of the Year (2018)
— 3x Consensus First-Team All-American
— 3x SEC Player of the Year
— 4x First-Team All-SEC
— Honda Sports Award (2018)
— SEC Freshman of the Year (2015)
— SEC All-Freshman Team (2015)
The superstar power forward left USC with a degree in Mass Communications and as the all-time leading scorer in school history.
Wilson was the first-overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft by the Las Vegas Aces. She carried her success and winning mentality to the pros. Her Women's National Basketball Association accomplishments are bound to grow:
— WNBA MVP (2020)
— 3x WNBA All-Star
— WNBA Rookie of the Year (2018)
— All-WNBA First Team (2020)
— WNBA All-Defensive Second Team (2020)
— WNBA blocks leader (2020)
Like many WNBA players, Wilson spends the league's offseason hooping professionally overseas, like the majority of WNBA superstars. She last played internationally with the Shaanxi Red Wolves of the Chinese Basketball Association.
The professional basketball star led Vegas to the best regular season record in Western Conference. Wilson and the Aces hope to avenge last season's WNBA Finals loss to the Seattle Storm this postseason.
As Wilson's game grows, so does her influence. She was named to Forbes' 30 under 30 list in the sports category.
A'Ja Wilson Net Worth & Salary
The 2020 MVP finished her 4-year, $232,178 rookie contract, with the final year being a team option worth $67,020. Over that span, Wilson earned an average salary of $58,045 per Spotrac. At the time she had a reported net worth of $1.5-2 million. However, that number is certainly about to jump considering her new two-year deal with LAs Vegas. Ahead of the 2022 WNBA Season, Wilson and the Aces inked a $398,422 deal, with all of the money guaranteed. Wilson will now make almost four times her yearly average from her rookie contract, as she averages $196,267 per season.
Ask any MVP winner in any sport and they'll tell you that it pays to be the best.
Wilson spoke out on social media about the pay gap between NBA salaries and WNBA salaries following LeBron James' deal with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. Her statement was met with support from Aces teammate Kayla McBride, Phoenix Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, Staley, and Hall of Famer Alex English.
154M ........... must. be. nice. We over here looking for a M ? but Lord, let me get back in my lane pic.twitter.com/IFDZLlI53z
— A'ja Wilson (@_ajawilson22) July 2, 2018
She highlighted the discrepancies in revenue sharing. At the time, WNBA players received less than 25 percent of league revenue compared to NBA players receiving 51 percent.
This all changed thanks to the WNBA's new Collective Bargaining Agreement established in January 2020. COVID-19's impact threw a wrench into the plans to evenly split revenue but sooner rather than later WNBA players will be getting their payday.
And after the ink dried on her massive two-year deal, you can count on the fact that Wilson won't be the first WNBA to get a raise in the near future.
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