“Women, we are in control,” says Erica Wheeler, who recently signed with the Sparks. WNBA free agency has been a trending topic this offseason, and the Women are taking control of their destiny. Many huge signings, including Wheeler leaving the Indiana Fever to play with the Sparks.
Wheeler thanked the Fever and Tamika Catchings for helping her throughout her journey, and she’s thankful for Sparks head coach, Derek Fisher, for the opportunity to be in Los Angeles. “I’m super excited. I can’t explain how excited I am to be a part of L.A. in this championship atmosphere.” She wants the chance to be in a winning environment. Fisher’s game experience contributed to Wheeler making her decision. She believes he will help elevate her game.
Coming into the WNBA, Wheeler was undrafted, and she acknowledged that this free agency experience is something that she is not accustomed to going through. She stated, “You know I went undrafted, so this whole experience is new. I don’t know what it’s like to hear my name called or any of those things. To be able to have this opportunity shows the work that I’ve put in.”
Despite the Sparks’ loss of Chelsea Gray and Candace Parker, Wheeler still believes they have a chance to win with the young core on the roster. “We have young players that are hungry. We also have veterans like Nneka and Tolliver that has won championships.” Wheeler weighed out her options, and Los Angeles seemed perfect.
Many things going on the tough decisions she had to make, Wheeler said she still can’t wrap her head around being in Los Angeles, a city where stars are born. Her fans and family are super excited about where this journey takes Wheeler’s career.
Players are taking control of their destiny, according to Wheeler. She noted this is the first time in her life where she decided what is best for her. “At the end of the day, I got to do what’s best for me for the first time in my life.” She continued, “We’re not just basketball players. We control what we want to do and how we want to do it. The excitement around free agency, this is the first time it’s been like this. It’s very important to let people know women are in control.” Candace Parker recently recognized player empowerment for women.
Wheeler said the world knows she is an All-Star, and it’s up to her to stay consistent. She won the All-Star game MVP in 2019. “All-Star opened up everything. If you were there it was over 10,000 people if I talked, you could hear a pin drop, everybody was surprised. Everybody in that gym felt my presence that definitely opened up everything on and off the court. It was amazing.”
Basketball camps for kids are something that Wheeler regularly does. During her press conference, she stated that camps are already on her plans for Los Angeles youth. “I’m sure we can bring that Miami vibe to L.A.”
Wheeler strives to be a vocal leader on and off the court. She intends to bring her leadership skills to the Spark. “I’m a person that works hard, and I tend to bring passion to the game. I want to learn my teammates because everybody is not the same. See what drives and pushes them. I’m going to be a leader regardless of the matter because the ball is going to be in my hands most of the time.”
Helping her teammates out and communicating is a vital role for Wheeler. She states, “If we communicate off the court, on the court is going to be like night and day. I think as we spend time together and learn from each other, I think we’ll be ok.”