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Kate Martin in no doubt of A’ja Wilson’s role in WNBA as icon sent highest praise possible

Las Vegas Aces rookie Kate Martin heralded two-time WNBA champion A’ja Wilson as the best player in the world, additionally asserting that the post player is the best leader she’s ever come across

Las Vegas Aces rookie Kate Martin hasn’t taken long to make a name for herself at the professional level – and much of her success can be attributed to the mentorship she’s received from teammate and two-time WNBA champion A’ja Wilson.

On Sunday, Martin made her first career start for the Aces against the Los Angeles Sparks because Jackie Young and Chelsea Gray were unavailable. The guard didn’t let the opportunity go to waste, scoring a personal-best 13-points on 5-of-7 shooting while additionally amassing four rebounds and three assists.
But it was Wilson who turned in the best performance of the night, recording 31 points, eight rebounds and five assists in 37 minutes. Her strong showing ultimately wasn’t enough, however, as the Aces fell to the Sparks, 96-92.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Martin praised Wilson for not just her play, but also her leadership. “You know I’m sitting next to the best player in the world. And not only is she the best player in the world, she’s the best leader I’ve ever been around,” she said.

“She brings people together, and she has so much confidence in every single person on our team and that just builds up our locker room so much. For the best player in the world to tell me to keep shooting it and stay aggressive, I feel on top of the world.”

Through nine games this season, Wilson is averaging career-highs in points (28.3), rebounds (11.8), steals (1.9) and blocks (three). Amid her incredible start, the 27-year-old has emerged as the favorite for the 2024 WNBA MVP award.

A'ja Wilson is currently the favorite to win the 2024 WNBA MVP award
A’ja Wilson is currently the favorite to win the 2024 WNBA MVP award 
Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
Martin has not been shy when it comes to heralding Wilson, who swiftly took the 24-year-old under her wing after she joined the Aces this offseason.

“She’s a great leader.” Martin said of Wilson last week. “She brings everybody else up around her… That’s the kind of leader she is. She’s always encouraging me, telling me to believe in myself, and that’s the family culture I talked about.

“They want to see each of us do good, and she wants to see the best in me. She wants me to believe in myself and take advantage of the opportunities that I have on the court. I think that’s just super cool to see a veteran, who’s the best player in the world, instill that confidence in myself.”

The newfound confidence is clearly paying off for Martin, who’s been one of the most intriguing WNBA surprises this year. In eight games predominantly coming off the bench, she’s averaging 5.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 while shooting 39.1% from behind the arc.

Just several months prior, Martin didn’t even expect to hear her name called in the 2024 Draft, attending the event just to support college teammate Caitlin Clark. But the Aces were impressed by what they saw from the Iowa-product, acquiring her talents in the second round.