Sparks Sign McWilliams-Franklin to Boost Frontcourt

EL SEGUNDO, CA - The Los Angeles Sparks signed five-time WNBA All-Star Connecticut Sun center/forward Taj McWilliams-Franklin to a multi-year contract, it was announced today by Sparks General Manager Penny Toler. McWilliams-Franklin was acquired in a sign-and-trade deal for Erika de Souza and the Sparks 2007 first round draft pick (12th overall). Per team policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This announcement comes on the heels of recent player additions to the Sparks that enhance Tolerís strategy to position the team for championship contention.

Toler said, ďWe are thrilled and happy to have acquired such a great and experienced post player as Taj. Her accolades and records speak for themselves. Not only is she an exceptional offensive player but she has a defensive game to match that will help us in our quest to bring a third championship to Los Angeles and a first for our new owners.Ē

McWilliams-Franklin was selected by the Orlando Miracle in the 1999 WNBA Draft (32nd overall), where she played for four seasons before the franchise was relocated to Connecticut as the Sun. With 242 career starts, the eight year WNBA veteran averages 12.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. She ranks sixth in total rebounds (1,814) and tenth in rebounds per game (7.5). McWilliams-Franklinís 2006 season proved that she is still at the top of her game as she set a single-season franchise records for total rebounds (306), defensive rebounds (202), rebounds per game (9.6) and double-doubles (12). She also joined the 3,000 career-point club against Indiana in August. As Connecticut's all-time playoff scoring and rebounding leader, McWilliams-Franklinís clutch performances have catapulted the Sun to two appearances in the WNBA Finals.

ďIím excited to be coming to Los Angeles. Itís a new challenge and a great opportunity to play against some of the best post players,Ē noted McWilliams-Franklin. ďItís just really exciting that I get to start over this far in my career. Itís going to get my competitive juices flowing.Ē

McWilliams-Franklin has spent the WNBA off-seasons dominating overseas as a player in Korea, Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Spain, Greece and Israel. In 1996, she was drafted by the ABLís Richmond-Philadelphia Rage where she played for three seasons. A graduate of St.Edwards, she set numerous records there including career scoring (1,837), most points in a single season (760), and highest scoring average (24.5).

Chamique Holdsclaw, Sparks forward and former USA Basketball teammate adds, ďIím really excited about Taj coming. I think she will give us a presence in the paint as well as veteran leadership. Plus, she knows what it takes to win. Iíve always been a fan of her game.Ē