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Hometown Fans Throw TV Watch Party for WNBA #1 Draft Pick Aliyah Boston

Fans of Aliyah Boston settle in to watch the WNBA Draft at Yacht Haven Grande on Monday. (Photo by Judi Shimel)

As the skies darkened over Yacht Haven Grande Monday night, the big moment arrived for one St. Thomas athlete. About two dozen relatives, friends and fans of basketball star Aliyah Boston settled into seats in front of a big-screen TV to watch the draft picks for the Women’s National Basketball Association.

The crowd erupted in cheers for Boston, team leader for the University of South Carolina’s women’s team. Coverage of the draft was carried by ESPN Sports Network and included a remote shot of the festivities on St. Thomas.

Word of Boston’s move to the professional leagues circulated shortly after her 2022 NCAA tournament-winning team lost to Iowa State in the Final Four. Many of those attending the draft pick watch party were confident their hometown favorite would become the No. 1 pick. Playing power forward for the South Carolina Gamecocks, she has won numerous awards throughout her college athletic career, including the NCAA Most Outstanding Player in 2022.

Some of those seated closest to the screen, awaiting the announcement, wore dark red South Carolina T-shirts with Boston’s name and player number (4) on the back. Family friend Luben Daniel said he came because of the close ties between Boston’s family and his own throughout the years.

“I’m a big supporter of everything Virgin Islands,” Daniel said.

Priscilla Dumas raised the Virgin Islands flag as she heard the big announcement; Boston being chosen in Round Number One of the 2023 draft by the Indiana Fever.

“She’s my cousin. I’m supporting her. I’m very proud of her,” Dumas said.

Family members cheer as announcement of the draft pick is made. (Photo by Judi Shimel)

Technicians for Westline Productions replayed the announcement after live coverage announced the winners of the second- and third-draft pick rounds; Diamond Miller to the Minnesota Lynx and Maddy Siegrist to the Dallas Wings.

In the final screen, sports network producers posted Boston’s photo beside another Virgin Islands basketball superstar — Tim Duncan. Duncan was the NBA’s 1997 No. 1 draft to the San Antonio Spurs, a team he helped lead to five basketball league championships.

Rashidi Clenance, a former local cable-tv sportscaster and Duncan’s childhood friend was asked if Boston could become the Tim Duncan of the WNBA. He answered thoughtfully.

“I think she’s gonna be the best Aliyah Boston. At the end of the day, Tim Duncan is one of the greatest basketball players of all time — top five, top 10. Aliyah would probably be one of the greatest ball players of all times, as far as females go,” Clenance said.

He added that during her career in college sports, Duncan invited Boston to train and practice in his private gym, saying that the Big Fundamental — as he was known — encourages and applauds the success of all Virgin Islanders.

“Aliyah worked out with Tim the summer and the summer before, and Tim gave Aliyah some pointers … When approached with the idea, Tim said, ‘I don’t know what I could do; she looks ready to me.’

“But at the end of the day, iron sharpens iron,” Clenance said.

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