WNBA and Caitlin Clark Are 'Popping Off' Says Aces' A'ja Wilson: 'It's a Huge Moment For Us' (Exclusive)

The reigning WNBA Finals MVP tells PEOPLE this upcoming season is "a big, big deal" for women's basketball

<p>Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images; Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images</p> Caitlin Clark and A

The WNBA is having a moment, Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson says, as the basketball world braces for former college superstar Caitlin Clark’s highly anticipated professional debut.

Wilson, 27, spoke with PEOPLE on the red carpet at the Time100 Gala on Thursday night and relished in her sport’s rise in popularity over the last year, explaining that interest in women's basketball has been “popping off” since Clark, 22, began raining down a barrage of three-pointers and breaking records in recent years.

“We're popping!” Wilson says. “It's huge. It really is. It's a big, big deal.”

Wilson tells PEOPLE that she couldn’t bask in the sport’s rapid growth without giving a shout out to her alma mater South Carolina, who went 38-0 on a historic undefeated national championship run this past season, defeating Clark and her Iowa Hawkeyes in the title game earlier this month.

That NCAA Championship game, and several others throughout the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, broke viewership records for the sport and painted a clear picture that more and more sports fans are flocking to watch women’s basketball.

“It's a huge moment for us,” Wilson, the reigning WNBA Finals MVP, says. “It's popping, but I hope it continues. I hope the investment is there to stay and it's not just a trend that's going to fizz out. So, hopefully this summer we have a lot of eyes, a lot of great people that want to see us continue and shine bright. I'm excited to be in it.”

Related: Megan Rapinoe Says She Plans See Multiple Caitlin Clark Games This Season: ‘I’m Just as Big a Fan as Anyone’

<p>Michael Loccisano/Getty Images</p> A'ja Wilson attends the 2024 Time100 Gala

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

A'ja Wilson attends the 2024 Time100 Gala

About 90% of Clark’s games will air on national television this season, with ticket prices and jersey sales for her Indiana Fever team skyrocketing after the Iowa guard was selected No. 1 overall at this month’s WNBA Draft.

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Wilson says it’s now vital for fans to put their money where their mouth is and show up to support their favorite teams and players in person this season.

Related: Caitlin Clark Says Her Goal Is to Join Team USA at Paris Olympics: ‘It’s Where I Want to Be’

<p>Matt Kryger/NBAE via Getty Images</p> Caitlin Clark

Matt Kryger/NBAE via Getty Images

Caitlin Clark

The two-time WNBA Champion’s comment comes amid the recent discourse surrounding WNBA and NBA players’ vastly different salaries, sparked by comparisons between Clark’s contract for $338,056 over four years compared to Victory Wembanyama, the NBA’s most recent No. 1 draft pick’s $55.7 million contract over his first four years.

“It sounds good to talk about it. It sounds good to tweet about it and post about it. But where's that wallet? Let's get into it. Let's dive into it. Let's invest, go to a game, show out, support each other. And I think that's the biggest thing is understanding that it's going to take all of us to make this change. It's not just us, but at the end of the day, I think we're going to be good. I think we're in a good spot.”

The WNBA regular season kicks off Tuesday, May 14 with a slate of four games on ESPN, including games involving Wilson’s Las Vegas Aces and Clark’s Indiana Fever.

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