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May 14, 2024 11:36 pm

Sparks leaning on rookies as season tips off vs. Dream

cameron brink

Two Los Angeles rookies will make their highly anticipated WNBA debuts on Wednesday night when the host Sparks open their season against the Atlanta Dream.

Forwards Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson, the No. 2 and No. 4 overall picks in last month’s draft, respectively, are set to take center stage as Los Angeles attempts to improve on last year’s 17-23 record.

Brink was a three-time All-American at Stanford, helping the Cardinal to a national championship in 2021. Jackson averaged 20.2 points per game for Tennessee in 2023-24 and was a two-time first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection.

The pair hope to help the Sparks get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2020.

“I’m surrounded by amazing people each and every day and we have the same ultimate goal, which is to win — to make some noise this year and surprise some people,” Jackson said at the team’s media day.

Brink and Jackson join Lexie Brown, who averaged 12.4 points but was limited to just 12 games last season, and Layshia Clarendon, who averaged 11.1 points per game in 2023.

Los Angeles lost its top two scorers from a year ago, 2016 MVP Nneka Ogwumike, who signed with the Seattle Storm, and Jordin Canada, who will be suiting up for the Dream on Wednesday.

Canada was traded to Atlanta in an offseason deal that sent Aari McDonald to the Sparks. In addition to being Los Angeles’ second-leading scorer in 2023, Canada averaged team highs of 6.0 assists and 2.3 steals.

The Dream also added veteran Tina Charles, an eight-time All-Star who was named MVP back in 2012. Charles is rejoining the league after missing the 2023 campaign.

“It’s been great,” said Atlanta forward Cheyenne Parker-Tyus, who will be teaming up with Charles in the frontcourt. “We’re just trying to learn each other and build that chemistry. We want to be one of the best duos in the league, so our focus is just continuing to communicate with each other.”

Parker-Tyus led Atlanta with 6.7 rebounds per game last year, and she also blocked a team-high 1.5 shots per contest. She averaged 15.0 points, trailing Rhyne Howard (17.5 points per game) and Allisha Gray (17.1), who are both returning to the Dream this season.

Atlanta went 19-21 in 2023, losing 2-0 to the Dallas Wings in the first round of the playoffs.

–Field Level Media

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