Aces rookie forward A’ja Wilson sprinted to the scorer’s table to check in midway through a preseason game against the Chinese National Team on Sunday night, only to realize she doesn’t have to do that anymore.
That’s a college thing.
She’s a professional.
Wilson, the No. 1 overall pick in last month’s WNBA draft, dazzled in her first professional game, finishing with a team-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting and seven rebounds in nearly 22 minutes of a 98-63 Aces’ victory.
She scored in the post, finished pick-and-rolls and scored from the perimeter against bigger, stronger opponents — seemingly at will.
Head coach Bill Laimbeer said after the game he wanted her teammates to get her the ball.
Good things happened when they did.
“We wanted to establish her presence on our basketball team,” Laimbeer said. “Show the world what capabilities she has. … Overall, I thought it was a really solid performance for her.”
Wilson said she was nervous before the game — she gets nervous before every game, she says — but eased into the flow of competition in the first quarter.
She made her first four field goals and scored the Aces’ first nine points before checking out late in the first quarter.
“My teammates really looked out for me and I just go off that,” she said. “They really got me in the best situations and I had to reward them.”
Wilson reeled off seven straight points to start the third quarter, too, and finished with 11 in the frame before sitting out the fourth.
Laimbeer and veteran teammate Sequioa Holmes said Wilson can be better in the WNBA than she was in college — she was the consensus national player of the year — because the lane is wider and court is bigger in the WNBA.
She’s proving them right.
“We know she’s going to do well,” Holmes said. “Teams aren’t going to be able to sit in the paint and double her because we have good shooters outside. She’s going to be an even better pro.”