Caitlin Clark pose for a portrait during the 2024 WNBA Draft ; A'ja Wilson attends the 2024 TIME100 Gala

Las Vegas Aces’ standout A’ja Wilson recently emphasized the WNBA’s current momentous surge in popularity, coinciding with the highly anticipated professional debut of former college sensation Caitlin Clark. Speaking to PEOPLE at the Time100 Gala, Wilson, 27, expressed delight at the exponential growth of interest in women’s basketball, attributing much of it to Clark’s remarkable prowess on the court. Wilson enthused, “We’re popping! It’s huge. It really is. It’s a big, big deal.”

Acknowledging the broader context of the sport’s rise, Wilson also credited her alma mater, South Carolina, for their recent historic undefeated national championship triumph, culminating in a victory over Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes. This pivotal NCAA Championship game, along with several others throughout the women’s basketball tournament, shattered viewership records, signaling a burgeoning trend of increased engagement with the women’s game.

Wilson, the reigning WNBA Finals MVP, emphasized the importance of sustained investment and support for women’s basketball beyond mere trends. She expressed hope that the surge in popularity would endure, urging for continued attention and investment in the sport to ensure its long-term growth and success.

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever poses for a portrait at Gainbridge Fieldhouse during her introductory press conference on April 17, 2024

The spotlight on Clark’s professional debut is evident, with approximately 90% of her games slated for national television broadcast this season. The frenzy surrounding her arrival has also translated into tangible indicators of fan enthusiasm, such as skyrocketing ticket prices and jersey sales for her Indiana Fever team following her selection as the No. 1 overall pick in the recent WNBA Draft.

Wilson emphasized the significance of fan engagement beyond television viewership, urging supporters to actively attend games and show their support for their favorite teams and players in person. As excitement builds for the upcoming WNBA season, Wilson’s sentiments underscore the pivotal role fans play in shaping the continued growth and success of women’s basketball on and off the court.

A'ja Wilson attends the 2024 Time100 Gala

Against the backdrop of ongoing discussions regarding the stark disparity in salaries between WNBA and NBA players, A’ja Wilson’s remarks resonate deeply. Comparisons between Caitlin Clark’s contract, valued at $338,056 over four years, and Victory Wembanyama’s staggering $55.7 million deal as the NBA’s most recent No. 1 draft pick have sparked widespread debate.

Wilson’s pointed commentary highlights the need for tangible action beyond mere rhetoric. She challenges fans and stakeholders alike to translate vocal support into meaningful investment, urging attendance at games and active participation in elevating the visibility and value of women’s basketball. Emphasizing the collective responsibility to effect change, Wilson underscores the importance of solidarity in advancing the cause of gender equity in sports.

As the WNBA regular season approaches, with its commencement slated for Tuesday, May 14th, the stage is set for an electrifying showcase of talent and athleticism. With Wilson’s Las Vegas Aces and Clark’s Indiana Fever among the teams taking center stage, anticipation runs high for a season brimming with excitement, promise, and the potential for transformative change in the landscape of women’s basketball.