No WNBA team had drafted a player from a historically Black college or university since 2002. But Jackson State University senior center Ameshya Williams-Holliday changed that on Monday after she became the first player from an HBCU to be drafted into the WNBA in 20 years, CNN reported.
The star athlete wrote her name in the history books after she was selected by the Indiana Fever with the 25th overall pick in the 3rd round. “It’s an honor, a dream come true and a blessing to be able to be a part of history and to be able to open doors for our HBCU community,” Williams-Holliday told the news outlet in a statement. “Being a trail blazer feels amazing, but there is so much more to accomplish.”
Williams-Holliday is, without doubt, a very talented athlete as she has won the Southwestern Atlantic Conference defensive player of the year on three occasions. She was also named as the 2021-22 season’s player of the year.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity to continue my career on the next level and most importantly to continue to be a great example for my son Jace and my younger siblings and for the kids in my community,” Williams-Holliday said. “I want every HBCU athlete to never lose hope and to know anything is possible.”
In its 26-year existence, the WNBA has drafted only five HBCU players, with three of those being in 2002. The three drafted players are Andrea Gardner (Howard University), Amba Kongolo (North Carolina Central University), and Jacklyn Winfield (Southern University and A&M College).
Howard University’s Denique Graves and Karen Wilkins are the other two HBCU players to be drafted. That was in 1997 and in 1998 respectively, CNN reported. However, the 2022 WNBA roster doesn’t have a player from an HBCU.
“I think if I was at a Power 5 school, it would be a different story of me being drafted or trying to get my foot in (the WNBA),” Williams-Holliday told ESPN‘s Andscape in an interview last week.
“People think (HBCUs) can’t compete with other top institutions (or) a Power 5 school, but that’s not true,” she added. “I think we deserve to be on the same level. I do think if I was still at Mississippi State, I would be a first-round draft pick.”