Aces coach Bill Laimbeer implored forward Dearica Hamby to shoot more during Tuesday’s practice.
Good things tend to happen when she does.
Hamby played sparingly in the WNBA team’s first four games, but since has emerged as a viable scoring option with 38 points in 36 minutes in her past two games.
She scored 12 points in the fourth quarter against the Washington Mystics on Friday, keying the team to their lone victory, and had 24 points Sunday in a loss at the Chicago Sky.
“She brought high energy,” Laimbeer said. “She’s shooting the ball from the perimeter. It’s what I asked her to do. It’s like pulling teeth to get her to do it, but she has a quality shot. More so, it’s the energy she brings.”
Hamby is versatile at 6 feet 3 inches tall and has an inside-out skillset cultivated in a relatively short period.
She didn’t play varsity basketball until her junior year of high school and didn’t break out until her junior year at Wake Forest, where she averaged 22 points and 11 rebounds in 2013-14.
Hamby was drafted No. 6 overall by the San Antonio Stars in 2015 and worked through injuries as a rookie. She became pregnant at the end of her second season, gave birth in February 2017 and spent most of last year finding her form and readjusting to her body.
“That took a lot longer than I expected,” Hamby said. “I feel like it took almost a full year for me to feel like myself, just from the way your body moves now. Everything has changed. I was physically in shape … But I was just a step behind.”
Hamby missed training camp while finishing her professional season in Europe. When she returned before the regular-season opener, she needed to adjust to her new role, coach and teammates.
She logged a total of 31 minutes in the team’s first four games, but was called on against the Mystics and helped close the game with a dominant fourth quarter.
Her strong play continued Sunday, and Laimbeer plans to reward her with more playing time.
“That’s going to be our X-factor,” Aces star rookie A’ja Wilson said. “When it happens in practice, it’s not unexpected. For her to shoot those shots, it wasn’t like, ‘Whoa’ for us … The game is going to continue to reward her.”
Coffey injures ankle
Aces forward Nia Coffey could miss a few weeks with an ankle injury, Laimbeer said. Coffey left Sunday’s game in the first half and did not return. She didn’t practice Tuesday.
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Dearica Hamby’s stats
First four games
— Eight points on 3-of-6 shooting; nine rebounds; one steal
Past two games
— Friday vs. Washington: 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 1-of-3 from 3-point range; four rebounds; one steal
— Sunday at Chicago: 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range; six rebounds; three blocks