South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston dominated women’s college basketball this past season, not only helping guide the Gamecocks to a national championship, but also winning the National Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards along the way.
Her junior campaign featured an SEC-record streak of 27 consecutive double-doubles en route to averaging 16.8 points and 12.6 rebounds per game that led to a nomination from ESPN for the “Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports” ESPY.
But Boston was not invited to attend the ESPYs, which will be held at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley called out at ESPN for the oversight on social media, blasting the network for the decision.
“Like really… Who in the room from @ESPN @ESPYs decided it was a great idea to not invite @MarchMadnessWBB NPOT DPOY… not one person was able to see the uproar this would cause? There’s definitely something wrong with the makeup of the room… the fight continue… #WBBSTANDUP,” Staley tweeted Sunday night.
Boston’s omission from invitee list, and Staley’s remarks, stirred social media, calling ESPN’s actions “disrespectful” to Boston.
ISLAND SEED:Boston’s journey from homemade Caribbean court to South Carolina star
HOMETOWN LOVE:South Carolina star honored with ‘Aliyah Boston Day’ in US Virgin Islands
Those online mentioned that UConn star Paige Bueckers, who won the award in 2021, was invited and in attendance for the ceremony.
During the 2021-22 season on numerous occasions, Staley felt it necessary to publicly campaign for Boston to win the national player of the year award, despite her clearly being the best player in women’s college basketball.
Staley said for a player of Boston’s caliber, the air time wasn’t at the level that it had for similar players in the past.
During its lead-ins to segments and specials for much of the 2021-22 season, ESPN used a shot of Boston crying after she missed a point-blank putback as time expired against Stanford in the 2021 Final Four.
Because of that, all preseason and season long, Staley talked about turning Boston’s tears into happy tears.
Boston went on to lead South Carolina to a 36-2 overall record, capped by a 64-49 victory over Bueckers and UConn in the national championship game in Minneapolis, where she earned the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player award and was the game’s MVP.