Sparks believe they have something brewing with versatile Nia Coffey in lineup
“I’m really excited for this opportunity to play in L.A. with this group of players and for such an iconic organization,” the 25-year-old said at her introductory press conference Wednesday. “Seeing our veterans on this team, Nneka [Ogwumike], Seimone [Augustus], Chiney [Ogwumike] and Kristi [Toliver], I’m looking forward to seeing what they bring to the game and learning from their experience.”
Coffey signed with the Sparks on March 4 after appearing in 15 games for the Phoenix Mercury last season in the bubble. She averaged 15.3 minutes, 2.7 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. The 6-1 guard/forward re-signed with Phoenix on Jan. 23 but was waived Feb. 10, opening the door for the Sparks to acquire her.
“The addition of Nia Coffey provides us with additional athleticism, youth and versatility on the wing,” Sparks head coach/general manager Derek Fisher said. “She has shown the ability to make outside shots, attack the basket and defend multiple positions. We’re excited to have her join our group and compete.”
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Coffey is eager to prove in training camp that she belongs on the final roster.
“I just have to show my versatility on both sides of the ball,” she said. “Defensively, show that I can guard multiple positions and players and, on the other side of the ball, how I’ve been adding to my game whether it’s post-ups, mid-range or the three-point shot — just being able to attack the basket, make correct passes and reads and stuff and having a team-first mentality.”
Nia is the daughter of former NBA player Richard Coffey, who played in 52 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1990-91, and is the older sister of Amir Coffey, who currently plays for the Los Angeles Clippers on a two-way contract with the Agua Caliente Clippers of the NBA G-League. Her older sister Sydney played overseas after her collegiate career at Marist.
“Amir started super young, I want to say second grade, and I started in fourth grade,” Coffey recalled. “Never did I think we’d have the opportunity to play in the same city. Growing up and seeing how he has evolved as a player, the same as myself, and seeing how our journeys have been different ... but the fact that we landed in the same city is amazing. We haven’t been in the same city since college so I’m looking forward to it.”
Asked if her pedigree helps handle the pressures of the pro game better, Coffey answered affirmatively.
“My dad instilled in us at a young age that basketball was the way to go and it worked out for us,” she said. “All three of us were able to get scholarships and able to take it to the pro level. The WNBA is one of the hardest leagues and you can understand why when you’re in it.
“I learned early you have to find your way, your niche, your team and that can be difficult for some. With there only being 12 teams and only 12 spots on the team with the draft every year and your veterans still playing in the league and players coming from overseas … there are very few open spots available.”
The retooled Sparks added Nia Coffey to the roster Thursday. Coach-general manager Derek Fisher likes his new mix of players heading into WNBA season.
Drafted fifth in the 2017 WNBA draft by San Antonio, Coffey spent two seasons in that organization — the Stars relocated to Las Vegas as the Aces in 2018 — then was traded to the Atlanta Dream before the 2019 season. She has started 18 of the 98 career games in which she has played, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 12.4 minutes. She is a 35.2 percent three-point shooter.
Coffey will be reunited with Sparks assistant coach Latricia Trammel, who was an assistant at San Antonio during Coffey’s rookie season there.
“Definitely being a rookie that San Antonio season I learned a lot from Coach T … and then looking at the possibilities and reconnecting with her and getting the chance to play for her again I definitely took that into consideration,” Coffey said. “I’m excited being able to play for someone who added so much to my game that hopefully I can add to this team.”
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