Forward Chiney Ogwumike re-signed with the Sparks on Wednesday, the team announced, reuniting the former No. 1 overall pick with the coach who guided her most recent All-Star appearance.
After injuries slowed her career, Ogwumike, the 2014 rookie of the year, was named an All-Star in 2018 under coach Curt Miller during Ogwumike’s final year with the Connecticut Sun.
With Miller now overseeing the Sparks’ rebuild, Ogwumike will return for her fourth season with the franchise after averaging seven points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 26 appearances in 2022. It was the first time since 2019 that Ogwumike had played in a majority of the games after she opted out of the 2020 pandemic-affected season and injuries hampered her comeback in 2021.
“The past two seasons here have been the hardest of my basketball career, but I am motivated and inspired for this season to mark a new chapter for the Sparks and me,” Ogwumike said in a statement. “Reuniting with Curt, the coach that helped me be an All-Star in 2018, who knows my fight and journey on the court, means the world to me.”
While playing with the Sparks, Ogwumike has built her second career as an NBA analyst for ESPN.
The Sparks are expected to re-sign Ogwumike’s older sister, Nneka. The seven-time All-Star is an unrestricted free agent.
With training camp set to begin in late April, the Sparks signed four players to training camp rosters this month: guards Jordin Canada, Layshia Clarendon, Karlie Samuelson and forward Reshanda Gray.
One year after signing as the Sparks’ next star point guard, Canada will have to compete to keep her roster spot. The former UCLA star and first-round pick started 25 games for the Sparks last season and averaged 9.2 points and 5.5 assists.
Clarendon, who last played in the WNBA for Minnesota in 2021, offers a veteran point-guard presence, and Samuelson, who is playing in Australia’s top league, returns to the Sparks for the fourth time. Gray’s WNBA journeywoman career included one season with her hometown Sparks in 2020.
The Sparks already are trying to fill holes on their roster as forwards Stephanie Talbot and Katie Lou Samuelson will miss the season. Talbot, a key free agent signing who was expected to add much-needed three-point shooting, suffered a torn ACL while playing overseas this week. Samuelson, the younger sister of Karlie, is planning to give birth to her first child in August.