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Aces re-sign A’Ja Wilson, Angel McCoughtry heads to Minnesota

Updated February 2, 2022 - 2:36 pm

A’Ja Wilson is coming back.

The Las Vegas Aces officially announced the re-signing of the 2020 WNBA MVP Wednesday afternoon. Wilson will sign a two-year deal, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.

“Aces fans have embraced me and this team since the day I was drafted, and the city has been a second home for me,” Wilson said in a press release. “I’m looking forward to working with coach (Becky) Hammon and excited about the future of the franchise heading into 2022.”

Wilson was a restricted free agent, which gave the Aces the right to match any offers she received in free agency.

“A’ja is a generational talent both on and off the court. I’m excited to have her back in the fold with the Aces,” Hammon said. “She has been the leader of this team and an integral part of the Las Vegas community since the day she was drafted. I know our fans are ecstatic to once again have her at the forefront of our pursuit of a WNBA championship.”

A standout player at South Carolina, where she won the 2017 NCAA championship under the tutelage of Dawn Staley, Wilson, one of the most hyped prospects in WNBA history, was drafted No. 1 overall by the Aces in 2018.

Wilson immediately looked the part. She was named an All-Star and WNBA Rookie of the Year during her first season while averaging 20.7 points per game. She’s only continued to improve.

During the shortened 2020 season and without fellow All-Star Liz Cambage, Wilson won the league’s MVP award while averaging 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, two assists and two blocks to guide the Aces to the WNBA Finals, where Las Vegas lost to the Seattle Storm.

The fourth-year forward continued to shine during the 2021 season and was named an All-Star for the third time in her career. She also won a gold medal with USA Basketball at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, starting every game.

Wilson is one of two restricted free agents on the Aces roster, along with South Korean center JiSu Park.

McCoughtry to Minnesota

Angel McCoughtry, the five-time All-Star who’s spent the past two seasons with the Aces, is heading to the Minnesota Lynx as an unrestricted free agent, according to a press release. Terms were not released as per team policy. McCoughtry is preparing for her 13th season.

“Las Vegas what can I say,” McCoughtry said in a post on the Aces’ Twitter account. “You guys believed in me after my first injury and embraced me with open arms. I got to reinvent myself in Vegas. I am truly grateful for the coaching staff, my talented teammates, and all who supported me in Vegas. I say this not the end but the beginning of a lifelong friendship. I am an Ace for life.”

Selected with the first overall pick in the 2009 WNBA draft, McCoughtry spent the first decade of her career with the Atlanta Dream, becoming one of the league’s most recognizable players. She averaged 19.1 points and five rebounds per game and won two gold medals with USA Basketball at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

After 12 years in Atlanta – she missed all of the 2017 and 2019 seasons because of rest and injury, respectively – McCoughtry arrived in Las Vegas in 2020 after signing a two-year deal in free agency.

In her first season with the Aces, the Louisville alum made 22 starts, scoring 14.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. McCoughtry also shot a career-best 51.8 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from three-point range.

But McCoughtry’s resurgence took a major detour ahead of the 2021 season. In the Aces’ May 8 preseason game against the Los Angeles Sparks, the six-time All-WNBA honoree tore the ACL and meniscus in her right knee, prematurely ending her season.

Sam Gordon contributed to this story. Contact Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter

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