Thursday, August 13, 2020
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The New Faces on the L.A. Sparks Roster
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published July 16, 2020

Forward Reshanda Gray (12) played the New York Liberty during the 2019 season
(Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

Due to the Coronavirus delaying the start of the 2020 WNBA season, each team had to cut their roster to 12 players. This allowed players to receive their first paycheck in late June. To finalize their roster, the Sparks had to waive their rookies Beatrice Mompremier and Tynice Martin.

In late May, the Sparks acquired center Kristine Anigwe and a third-round pick in the 2021 draft. This finalized their 12-player roster.

The WNBA finalized a plan to start their season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL; players could choose to play or not. Guard Kristi Toliver and center Chiney Ogwumike opted out of playing this season, leading the Sparks to acquire former Baylor guard Te’a Cooper and former New York Liberty forward Reshanda Gray.

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Anigwe averaged 20.2 points and 11.0 rebounds per game during her career at UC Berkeley. She spent her rookie season with the Connecticut Sun and the Dallas Wings last year. During the 17 games she played with the Sun, she learned their frontcourt players prioritized the advancement of the team.

“Being in that post group was competitive every single practice, they never took a rep off,” Anigwe said. “[They] Always came with a positive attitude, and they wanted the best for the team. It was always about the team.”

Guard Te’a Cooper (4) played for Tennessee, South Carolina and Baylor
(Photo by Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

Gray is going into her fourth season in the WNBA, she was waived by the New York Liberty in May after giving the team 5.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last season. She was playing pro basketball in Korea while the country endured the Coronavirus. They suspended their basketball league for two weeks.

“I feel like we’ve played through the worst already,” Gray said. “I feel like Korea was really well prepared, they had tests ready, they had temperatures ready and they had heat sensors ready.”

During her college career, Cooper played for Tennessee, South Carolina, and Baylor. She is one of the 22 rookies that are playing this season. Head coach Derek Fisher lauded Cooper for her three-point shooting ability.

Her 13.6 points per game and 4.3 assists per game helped Baylor to a 28-2 overall record during the 2019-2020 season. Tennessee taught Cooper how to be a leader, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley taught her about professional conduct off the court and Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey taught her to do her best every time.

“Dawn Staley was amazing. She taught me a lot on and off the court, just about character and having relationships and just really being a good person,” Cooper said. “Kim Mulkey taught me, consistency with effort and energy when you step on the floor whether you want to be there or not, no matter what you’re going through.”

Guard Te’a Cooper played for Tennessee, South Carolina and Baylor (Photo by Jordan Murph / ESPN Images)

Gray is a former L.A. Sentinel Student Athlete of the Week and an alum of Washington Prep high School. She had the opportunity to meet the late Lakers legend, Kobe Bryant, when she was in middle school, She used the opportunity to ask Bryant for advice.

“I was a part of a nonprofit after school program named After School All-Stars and he was a big advocate for low-income communities and just giving back to the community through basketball,” Gray said. “I was like ‘I’m just starting to get into basketball, do you have any advice for me?’ He told me ‘you have to see yourself do it. You have to envision yourself to do it.’… as the years went on, I started to finally understand what he meant.”

Categories: Basketball
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