The Los Angeles Sparks have signed four-time WNBA All-Star Alana Beard to a free agent contract, Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler announced Wednesday. Per team policy, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Beard, a 511 guard/forward, averaged 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds 2.9 assists and 1.9 steals per game in six seasons with the Washington Mystics before missing the 2010 and 2011 campaigns with ankle and foot injuries, respectively. Prior to her injuries, Beard appeared in 193 of a possible 204 regular-season games dating back to her rookie campaign of 2004, starting 192. She earned WNBA All-Star Game selections from 2005-07 and again in 2009 three times as a starter and garnered 2006 Second Team All-WNBA honors.
Im excited that Alana has decided to join our Sparks family, Toler said. Alana is healthy and motivated to return to her All-Star form, and just as important shes hungry to help the Sparks win a Championship. Alana is a proven winner and her leadership qualities will be a tremendous asset to the Sparks.
Beard was selected second overall by Washington in the 2004 WNBA Draft from Duke, where she became the first player in womens college basketball history to claim the John R. Wooden, State Farm Wade Trophy and Naismith Player of the Year Awards as a senior. As a rookie with the Mystics, she earned her first of four consecutive WNBA All-Defensive Team selections and set a new franchise record for steals in a season.
Beards breakthrough season came in 2006 when she averaged career-highs of 19.2 points (sixth in the WNBA) and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 49.5% from the floor. The following season the Shreveport, La., native was nearly as productive at 18.8 points per game, fourth-highest average in the league. She made three Playoff appearances during her Washington career, most recently in 2009.
Beard is currently playing in Israel with Elitzur Ramla.
I am extremely thankful and grateful to Sparks owners Paula and Roosevelt Madison, Penny Toler, Coach Ross and the entire organization for this opportunity, Beard said, who has elected to wear No. 0 with the Sparks. I look forward to being a part of this team and playing with some of the best frontcourt players in the game in Candace Parker, DeLisha Milton-Jones and Ebony Hoffman.
Off the court, Beard is one of the WNBAs most community-minded players. She serves as an ambassador for the leagues Dribble to Stop Diabetes campaign, while through the Alana Beard Foundation she fosters a "no-excuse" environment to provide the young women of tomorrow with the necessary resources critical to achieving success on or off court.
The Sparks will tip-off the 2012 season Friday, May 18 at the Seattle Storm before the same two teams do battle at STAPLES Center on Sunday, May 20 at 5:30 p.m. For group and season ticket information, call 877-44-SPARKS or visit LASparks.com.