An Essence Carson replacement is at hand.
Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles Sparks signed unrestricted free agent guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, as first reported by The Athletic’s Brady Klopfer.
The former Washington Mystics guard, who spent the first six years of her career in D.C., will join the Sparks after wrapping up her WNBA offseason with Israel’s Maccabi Ramat Hen. In 12 games as a starter overseas, Ruffin-Pratt is averaging 11.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in just under 32 minutes per game.
The 27-year-old North Carolina graduate will help bolster the Sparks bench under new head coach Derek Fisher. Her toughness and strength make her a huge asset to an already dangerous defensive team, one that ranked first in opponent’s points per game last season.
Ruffin-Pratt moves on from the Mystics organization that signed her as an undrafted free agent back in 2013. In her six seasons in Washington, the guard averaged 6.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.8 assists.
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After starting all but two games from 2015-2017, Ruffin-Pratt saw her role diminished last year, coming off the bench for two-thirds of the season. Her numbers dipped, as she averaged 5.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists – all her lowest since 2014.
Despite that, her high basketball IQ and tenacity on defense helped Washington reach the 2018 WNBA Finals, where the season ended in defeat after a hard-fought series against the Seattle Storm.
If there’s a most valuable trait, outside of her defense, that Ruffin-Pratt will bring to the Sparks, it’s her experience in make-it-or-break-it moments. During last year’s playoff run with the Mystics, the team faced three elimination games leading up to the Finals and won them all.
Ruffin-Pratt’s presence will help ameliorate the loss of Essence Carson, who signed as a free agent with Phoenix.
Ruffin-Pratt will be an important veteran presence both on and off the court for this new regime in Los Angeles. The Sparks have been busy solidifying their roster in recent days, signing forward Ashley Walker and re-signing 2018’s Defensive Player of the Year Alana Beard.