A'ja Wilson talks Olympics preparation and why she's 'in-between' getting used to playing without fans

·Yahoo Sports Contributor
·3-min read

Las Vegas Aces forward A'ja Wilson has her sights set on Tokyo. Before the reigning WNBA MVP can chase gold at the Olympics, she's first joining forces with Mountain Dew to launch a line of custom merchandise, hand-designed by the South Carolina native herself.

Both the hoodie and Durag will be available at the game for any fans in attendance. Those in Las Vegas can see the items by visiting the Mountain Dew activation at the concourse of the Michelob Ultra Arena where they’ll have an opportunity to play some games for a chance to win some of the coveted gear.

"I loved working with Mountain Dew because they wanted to tap into something that's bigger than A'ja on the basketball court," Wilson said to Yahoo Sports about the pullover's design. "They really wanted to get into our culture and what we were all the time. We started with hoodies and then added the durag. I have an incredible fan base and they love anything dealing with me. I think it's really cool to see it brought to life with my logo and my number. It's nothing that you've really seen before."

In a rare move, the league will be playing an All-Star Game in an Olympic year. Scheduled to tip off Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, Wilson and the Team USA roster will square off against the rest of the All-Stars from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Las Vergas Aces star A'ja Wilson and Mountain Dew are teaming up to launch limited edition swag. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
Las Vergas Aces star A'ja Wilson and Mountain Dew are teaming up to launch limited edition swag. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

A'ja Wilson on the importance of rest during an unprecedented Olympics

Opening up about her Olympics preparation, Wilson emphasized the importance of rest and maintaining calmness, especially considering she'll be on the other side of the world away from family and friends.

"The biggest thing is just resting up. I hear the week goes by so fast when you get over there. We really have to be ready for that," she said. "So, there's going to be a lot of rest and just making sure that I'm hydrating right, up and ready for practice and focusing on the task at hand."

If she follows a similar routine stateside, it makes sense why the 24-year-old was named to the team. In her fourth year in the W, Wilson is averaging 19.4 points, nine rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. In the Western Conference, Las Vegas (15-6) sits one game behind the conference-leading Seattle Storm.

Unlike the regular season, fans will not be permitted to watch events live in Japan. Having played with and without fans within the last year, Wilson explained why she's "in-between" getting used to performing without roaring cheers from her biggest supporters.

"Once the game gets kind of starting, I'm really zoned in. Anything could be around me at that point," she said. "But, of course, we always love our fans and love people that are constantly rooting and cheering us on. It's going to be hard, but I think I'm glad we went through the bubble. So, we kind of already have a feeling of how it feels with no fans. It might be easier because I probably won't feel like I'm in Tokyo. But, the goal is to just play your best game."

When Team USA women's basketball take the hardwood later this month, it'll be seeking a seventh straight gold medal and Wilson's first.

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