Photo by: Andrew Wevers/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
Since 2002, no players from historically Black colleges and universities have been drafted to the WNBA. That all changed on the night of April 11, 2022.
Ameshya Williams-Holliday, a senior center from Jackson State University broke that twenty-year streak. The Indiana Fever selected Williams-Holliday in the third round, 25th pick overall.
“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,” she said in an interview with CNN. “Being a trailblazer feels amazing, but there is so much more to accomplish.”
Williams-Holliday was named defensive player of the year three times in the Southwestern Atlantic Conference and was also named player of the year for the 2021-22 season.
“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,” the 6-foot-4 player expressed.
She added: “I want every HBCU athlete to never lose hope and to know anything is possible.”
The 24-year-old had more to discuss regarding HBCU student-athletes being often not drafted into the major leagues.
“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 said in an interview with ESPN’s Andscape.
Only five players from historically black colleges have been drafted into the WNBA in the 26 years of its existence.
Denique Graves of Howard University was picked in 1997, and Karen Wilkins of Howard University was drafted the following year.
Four years later, Andrea Gardner of Howard University, Amba Kongolo of North Carolina Central University, and Jacklyn Winfield of Southern University and A&M College were three of those that were drafted in 2002.
“People think (HBCUs) can’t compete with other top institutions (or) a Power 5 school, but that’s not true,” the 6-foot-4 basketball player said.
She continued: “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.”
Congratulations to Ameshya Williams-Holliday, representing HBCUs well! We can’t wait to see you on the court!