The Indiana Fever Finally See A Bright Future With Aliyah Boston

The Indiana Fever introduced Aliyah Boston, their first overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft, to the public and media on Monday, officially entering a new era for the franchise.

The Fever haven’t finished above .500 since 2015. They haven’t won double digit games since prior to the turn of the decade. That’s not to rub salt in the wound, rather to state the gravity of the moment as they welcome Boston in as the centerpiece of their rebuild.

Elation has surrounded every moment of the Fever’s draft process and eventual selection. Boston was all but a lock to be the first overall pick — provided she entered the draft, of course.

Head coach Christie Sides recalled a story from the college season in which she and assistant coach Jessie Miller flew to Columbia, South Carolina to meet with Boston and the Gamecocks’ coaching staff. The trip had been planned before there’d been buzz that Boston might use her COVID-19 waiver to return for another year at Carolina.

“There was a time there where she had us all in a little bit of a panic when we weren’t sure what she was gonna do,” said Sides to a laugh from Boston and all in attendance. “The whole time on my way out there, I was trying to figure out, what is my play here?”

Sides ruminated heavily on trying to strike the balance of eagerness to draft a franchise-altering player and the want to be genuine and meet on Boston’s level. She and Miller entered practice early, walking in on Boston coaching up her teammates before the first buzzer even rang out. Sides and Fever general manager Lin Dunn have repeatedly highlighted Boston’s intangibles as a a substantial reasoning for what makes her such a pivotal player and person, praising her communication on and off the court repeatedly.

After a quick hello, an exchange of pleasantries, and sitting down to watch practice, time flew by.

“Practice is over, she comes up from behind me, and so I walk up and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, ok, here we go, what is it?’ And I really just had this sense of, you know what, if she has an opportunity to stay and that’s what she wants to do [she should do that]. I just said ‘Aliyah, I really wanted to meet you and talk face to face for a second, but really I hope you’re not stressing yourself out too much, you need to do what you need to do for you and no one else.’ And I think she looked at me like I was absolutely crazy in that moment,” says Sides before flashing a grin.

They’ve talked about that conversation multiple times in the past few weeks. Sides wanted to show who she was as a person. If Boston went back for another year, was in the draft next season and the Fever had a chance to select her, Sides wanted her to feel excited about what that could be.

“That was just a great moment really early between us two when we first met,” says Sides.

As soon as Sides leaned back from the mic, Boston leaned forward, asking Fever PR if she could weigh in on what Sides had said.

She illuminated that shortly after that conversation, she called her mom reiterated what Sides had said and the genuineness within it.

“It just really stuck with me,” Boston said. “People can say, ‘Oh just come out. Why not? You know you have a lot more opportunity,’ even if staying in college could have been better for me for many different reasons. Her saying that, it made me feel that she really wanted the best for me in that space. Knowing that they had the first pick as well made me feel comfortable.”

The Fever are about to embark on a remarkably important season in their franchise history, one filled with hope, youth, and a commitment to the future.

Boston enters with a skill set that will allow her to impact winning at an incredibly high level on both ends. Sides is ecstatic about the versatility she brings, the way she can anchor their defense, and what her offensive game can look like at the pro level after years of seasoning at South Carolina.

The organization continues to make clear from top to bottom, they drafted a great player, and an even greater person, something they view as perhaps the most important angle in a holistic rejuvenation to competitiveness. They rave about her ability to galvanize teammates and be a leader, believing she can be not only a force with her play on the court but also in creating a positive culture in the locker room.

With Boston as the centerpiece of Indiana’s impending renaissance, setting the foundation with trust, mutual understanding, and a genuine approach is crucial to setting the tone in year one. Thus far, all indicators point to a great start from the Fever, and our view will be further painted as the season unfurls.