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Ace's Dearica Hamby named WNBA's sixth woman of the year again

Las Vegas forward Dearica Hamby is happy to be the WNBA's sixth woman of the year for a second season in a row. But she jokes that maybe she deserves a bit of the executive of the year award that Aces general manager Dan Padover received, too, as she helped lure one of Las Vegas' free-agent signees.

Both Hamby and Padover were honored Sunday before the top-seeded Aces' WNBA seminal opener against Connecticut. Hamby, who is in her sixth WNBA season, averaged a career-best 13.0 points, plus 7.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists in a reserve role for Las Vegas, which finished 18-4.

"For me, the sixth woman is about being the player who just does the little things and brings the energy," Hamby said. "It kind of raises the level of the team, and I take pride in that. And also winning an award for Las Vegas is special. Because being a part of the team in San Antonio and seeing how the organization has changed, I've enjoyed having this role with this team."

Hamby, the No. 6 pick out of Wake Forest in 2015, played three seasons in San Antonio before that franchise got new life as it moved to Las Vegas for the 2018 season. San Antonio did not make the WNBA playoffs four of the organization's last five years. Now Las Vegas is the top seed and also has league MVP A'ja Wilson, who was honored Thursday.

The Aces have tried to make Las Vegas a destination franchise, and Padover -- in consultation with coach Bill Laimbeer -- was able to sign Las Vegas' two biggest free-agent targets this past offseason: guard/forward Angel McCoughtry and guard Danielle Robinson. The Aces also asked center Carolyn Swords to delay her retirement -- she was planning to work in the front office this year -- and she has been the starting center.

With center Liz Cambage (medical exemption) and guard Kelsey Plum (torn Achilles) out from last year's team that made the semifinals, the Aces had holes to fill for 2020.

"We really wanted to improve our depth and add two more attacking playmakers," Padover said. "I can't say enough about how Bill has been able to make it work."

Hamby, 26, said she was happy with how the team added more talent to try to pursue a championship. But she said she should she get a little credit for helping persuade Robinson, her friend, to come to Las Vegas from Minnesota. They had played together in San Antonio.

"Some people may have wondered how we were going to balance all the good players on the team this year," Hamby said. "But I think Bill and Dan have done a good job of figuring out how we can play well together and what groups work well together."

Hamby is one of the moms in the WNBA bubble in Bradenton, Florida. Her 3-year-old daughter, Amaya, recently returned to the bubble after going home for a couple of weeks. She has cleared quarantine just in time for her mom's return to action.

"She's excited; she was sending me videos while she was gone," Hamby said. "Telling me to beat whoever we were playing."