Sparks sign Te’a Cooper, likely to replace Kristi Toliver

The Los Angeles Sparks have signed rookie guard Te’a Cooper, the team announced Sunday.

Cooper likely fills the roster spot opened after guard Kristi Toliver opted out of the 2020 WNBA season for health reasons. The Sparks signed forward Reshanda Gray on Saturday to replace Chiney Ogwumike, who also will not play for the team this year.

Cooper played for three top-tier programs in college, starting at Tennessee before transferring to South Carolina and then playing at Baylor last season as a graduate transfer, where she averaged 13.6 points and 4.3 assists per game for the 28-2 Bears.

“Te’a proved at Baylor that she can both facilitate effectively as a point guard and is also one of the better 3-point shooters entering the WNBA as a rookie,” Sparks coach Derek Fisher said in a statement. “She’ll be able to provide us depth at both guard positions and we’re excited to work with her.”

Cooper was a second-round pick by the Phoenix Mercury in this year’s draft but was waived last month as teams set their rosters without a training camp.

“I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and I’m excited and eager to contribute on and off the court in any way possible,” Cooper said in a statement. “I am looking forward to being with my new coaches, teammates, the organization, the fans and the community.”

Toliver decided not to play in the WNBA this year due to concerns over the coronavirus. Ogwumike, who also works for ESPN, has missed two WNBA seasons due to injury and said that requires her to be careful with her preparation to play.

The WNBA has planned a 22-game season for 2020 with standard playoffs, running July to October at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

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