Aces veteran wing Tamera Young spent the final few minutes of practice Thursday morning chatting with third-year point guard Moriah Jefferson.
Young is at Aces camp for a bevy of reasons.
Mentorship is one of them.
Young, preparing for her 11th WNBA season, is the Aces’ elder stateswoman and a sterling example of professionalism on a young, inexperienced roster.
Aces coach Bill Laimbeer, who also serves as president of basketball operations, signed Young in February, citing her work ethic and versatility.
She hasn’t disappointed.
“I know she’ll run the floor, keep up with the younger players,” he said. “She’s a 10-year veteran, but she plays like a youngster, keeps her body in great shape. She’s a veteran presence that knows what to do with the basketball.”
The 6-foot-2-inch Young played collegiately at James Madison and was drafted in the first round of the 2008 WNBA draft by the Atlanta Dream, with whom she played her rookie season.
Atlanta traded her to the Chicago Sky in 2009, and she spent the past nine seasons there before returning to Atlanta at the trade deadline last season.
Young, 31, said she signed with Las Vegas to play for Laimbeer — “he likes tough, hard-nosed players” — and for the chance to serve as a mentor.
She’s one of 15 players still in camp with the Aces.
The average age of the other 14 is 24.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to come here and help lead the young girls,” Young said. “A lot of them are young and unsure sometimes … Everybody is fighting for a job every day, and you’ve got to come in with that high intensity and be ready.”
Young is still one of the team’s best athletes and is dynamic on the wing and in the open floor.
She can handle the ball, make an open shot and defend, and Laimbeer said she’ll see minutes at both guards spots and small forward as the team establishes its identity.
“She’ll do whatever is asked of her,” he said. “We want all of our players to be multiposition players. Sometimes that’s not doable, but that’s our objective.”