WNBA exhibition at South Carolina ‘what our sport needs’

Colombia – less than 24 hours ago Las Vegas Aces Play a pre-season game at Colonial Life Arena, Aja Wilson She sat between her college coach Dawn Staley and WNBA coach Becky Hammon.

They all agreed on a lot of things, but the message that resonated most consistently Friday was about continuing to grow the game of women’s basketball.

A big part of that is the financial investment in women’s basketball and Saturday’s game is a first when it comes to a WNBA preseason game on campus. It’s a special thing for Wilson this weekend as she plays on her university’s field, but the coaches stressed it doesn’t have to stop this year.

“It should happen more often, you just have to have the financial support,” Staley said, explaining that if the Aces want to play at another school, it shouldn’t be a financial burden. He added: “If we want to grow the game, someone has to find the funding, because it’s beautiful, the turnout will be great, the talent, the training, the atmosphere will be great, and that’s what our sport needs.”

Hammon and Staley played in the WNBA but grew up watching the NBA, with very few female basketball players on television. Especially now with the women’s professional league, there still needs to be a constant push, Staley said.

“We have to continue to grow, it’s a great start but we need to bring in more innovative ideas to move the needle forward,” Staley said. “We have the first millionaire coach, let’s have the first millionaire player.”

Wilson is entering her seventh year in the WNBA, after being the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft. Hammon was named coach of the Aces in 2021, after coaching in the NBA with the San Antonio Spurs. The Aces have won the last two WNBA Finals, bringing more attention to the professional level. On Thursday, the Aces visited the White House to honor their 2023 win.

“It’s literally about putting your money where your mouth is,” Wilson said. “Yes, it looks great on social media, but what are we doing behind the scenes to make sure we continue to invest in women’s sports overall? … At the end of the day, this is not a fad, this is not a fad.” TREND…We have to invest in these women to move the needle forward.

Wilson gave a shout out to Gatorade, That happened to her To a multi-year contract on Wednesday, when talking about big companies that can have a big impact when signing deals or investments in women’s teams or players.

“These people at the table, they’re talking,” Wilson said. “Be the voice of the voiceless, use your platform in this way because not many of us have that seat, so if you are in that seat, use your platform to lift up others.”

Why Colombia?How WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces player A’ja Wilson scheduled preseason game against Puerto Rico in South Carolina

Lulu Kissin covers South Carolina athletics for the Greenville News and the USA TODAY Network. Send her an email at lkesin@gannett.com And follow her on X, formerly known as Twitter, @Lulukesin

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