Monday night marked the first time a player from a historically Black college or university has been drafted into the WNBA since 2002.
Ameshya Williams-Holliday, a senior center out of Jackson State University, was selected in the third round. She was the 25th pick overall by the Indiana Fever, making her the first HBCU player to be drafted into the WNBA in 20 years.
“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 said in a statement to CNN. “Being a trailblazer feels amazing, but there is so much more to accomplish.”
The basketball sensation was a three-time Southwestern Atlantic Conference defensive player of the year, Williams-Holliday also worked to become 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,” she continued. “I want every HBCU athlete to never lose hope and to know anything is possible.”
The League has only drafted five players from an HBCU in the 26 years since the WNBA’s founding.
Three of the players were drafted in 2002: Andrea Gardner from Howard University, Amba Kongolo from North Carolina Central University, and Jacklyn Winfield from Southern University and A&M College.
The two other HBCU players drafted from Howard University were Denique Graves in 1997 and Karen Wilkins in 1998.
However, there are no players from an HBCU in the WNBA in 2022.
“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 last week with ESPN’s Andscape.
“People think (HBCUs) can’t compete with other top institutions (or) a Power 5 school, but that’s not true,” she said. “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.”