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Sparks Acquire March Madness Standouts in WNBA Draft
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published April 18, 2019

Tampa, FL – April 7, 2019 – Amalie Arena: Kalani Brown (#21) of the Baylor University Lady Bears during the 2019 NCAA Women’s Final Four Championship game
(Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

The Los Angeles Sparks 2019 Draft picks have versatility, competitiveness and size to go along with their ability to perform in big-game situations.

In the first round, the Sparks used their seventh pick to draft reigning national champion, Kalani Brown. The center from Baylor is ready to contribute in any way the Sparks need her to.

“I am a very unselfish player,” Brown said. “I can pass right out of a double team and maybe score. Just whatever they need whether it’s scoring, or rebounding, blocking shots on the other end, defending, I can do it all.”

As a junior, Brown was the 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year and the Big 12 Championship Most Outstanding Player. Coming into her senior season, Brown’s .649 field goal percentage is the highest career field goal percentage is the highest in the program’s history.

This year, Brown averaged 15.8 points and 8.2 rebounds; she scored 20 points and 13 rebounds in the national championship win against Notre Dame.

“We’ve been looking for a five that’s a little different than what we’re always had in [Candace Parker],” said Sparks general manager and executive vice president Penny Toler. “Her size and her presence is gonna make a difference.”

The Sparks chose another national champion in their second-round pick: Fighting Irish guard Marina Mabrey. During the title match against Baylor, she dropped 21 points. When Notre Dame defeated Mississippi State for the 2018 national title, Mabrey scored 10 points, seven rebounds, and three steals.

“It was important to add players that understand how to fit into a great group that already exists,” said Sparks head coach Derek Fisher. “They played with a collection of players that were just as talented or even more talented at times.”

Sparks vice president and general manager Penny Toler (left) poses with head coach Derek Fisher (Jevone Moore/Full Image 360)

During her time at Notre Dame, Mabrey averaged 13.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.

To finish the draft, Los Angeles selected Duke guard Angela Salvadores in the third round. The guard just finished her freshman season with the Blue Devils, averaging 8.7 points, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

Soon after the draft, the L.A. Sparks signed LMU senior guard Gabby Green who has a 13.6 points per game scoring average. She also gave 2.7 steals and six rebounds per game.

Toler advises the newly drafted players to stay true to themselves on court when they play on the pro level.

“You have players that come in and they would think “I have to cater to the best that were there, I got to change my game,”” Toler said. “I always tell them “we know all about you, that’s why we picked you so when you come here, I want you to bring what you bring to the game.””

As their core starters are still on the squad, the  Sparks bench is full of new faces. During the free agency, the franchise acquired Rachel Hollivay, Alina Iagupova, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Ashley Walker.

The Sparks tip off their season in an away game against the Las Vegas Aces on May 26. 0

 

Categories: Basketball | News (Sports) | Sports
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