Boston’s improving fitness helps him excel for South Carolina

In this photo provided by Bahamas Visual Services, South Carolina's Aliyah Boston (4) hits the ball as UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards (3) watches during an NCAA college basketball game at Paradise Island, Bahamas, Monday, November 22, 2021 Aliyah Boston tallied 22 points and 15 rebounds to help No.1 South Carolina beat second UConn 73-57 to win the first championship of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.  (Tim Aylen / Bahamas Visual Services via AP)

In this photo provided by Bahamas Visual Services, South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston (4) hits the ball as UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards (3) watches during an NCAA college basketball game at Paradise Island, Bahamas, Monday, November 22, 2021 Aliyah Boston tallied 22 points and 15 rebounds to help No.1 South Carolina beat second UConn 73-57 to win the first championship of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. (Tim Aylen / Bahamas Visual Services via AP)

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Aliyah Boston has spent the offseason working on her fitness so that she can excel late in games.

It has already paid off for the South Carolina star, who dominated the final quarter of the No.1 Gamecocks’ victory over UConn on Monday. She finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds and made some big plays in the fourth quarter when the South Carolina ran off the Huskies.

“This year she assessed herself and said, ‘Hey, I’m not in good shape,’” said South Carolina coach Dawn Staley. “She said she lost 23 pounds.”

Boston did this by cutting out a lot of comfort foods it really loved, like ice cream.

“It was a difficult process,” she said. “I was feeling lethargic (last year) and felt like I couldn’t really move. I started to focus more on what I need to do to figure out how to lose weight.”

She not only improved her conditioning, but also worked her game. She spent time with the great Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs in Texas in training. The Boston family are friends with one of Duncan’s very good friends.

It was a thrill for Boston, who, like Duncan, was born in the US Virgin Islands. Boston was born in St. Thomas, while Duncan is a native of St. Croix.

“Growing up on the Islands, there weren’t a lot of people who reached the NBA,” she said. “He was definitely someone I admired. Going to train with him in person was amazing. We wanted to do it earlier in the year, but due to COVID it was not the right decision to do it then. I learned a lot from him. “

Boston said she was in disbelief when she found out she could train with Duncan. Like the NBA Hall of Famer, Boston is gifted on both sides of the ball. She is proud of her defense and has increased her attacking prowess.

This year, the junior forward is averaging 14.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. While the numbers aren’t as striking as some of the other preseason All-American APs, Staley isn’t worried as she knows her star will shine in the bigger games.

“We don’t have to rely on it that way,” Staley said. “When we do, she will come for us. It’s been a good week for her to have some really meaningful stats. “

Boston took 19 shots against UConn and made 10, including one at 3 points. She had four points and three rebounds in the final quarter as the Gamecocks outscored the Huskies 16-3.

“She always had a big image, always had a pro mentality,” Staley said. “She’s a young junior and the important things are so far away.”

Staley knows the 6-foot-5 Boston will continue to grow and isn’t afraid to say she’s the best player in the country. It’s hard to argue with that right now.

“It’s about time Aliyah Boston was the dominant player that she is,” said Staley. “I think she often sells herself out on time, so we have to fit her in. She has to be dominant because she is a dominant player.”


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