On Friday, May 31, the Sparks defeated the Connecticut Sun in front of a raucous Staples Center crowd. For third-year guard Sydney Wiese, the victory did not just mark the 2019 home opener: it also notched her first career start in the WNBA.
Wiese is no stranger to the big stage. She set school records for assists and 3-pointers made as the starting point guard for Oregon State, orchestrating an offense that rolled to three straight Pac-12 championships and a 2016 Final Four appearance. Wiese’s efforts on the court also earned her All Pac-12 honors for four straight years, a feat achieved by only 14 other players in conference history. Her other collegiate accolades include the 2017 Senior CLASS and Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year awards, as well as Wooden Award All-American honors in 2017.
“She’s the type of player that you have on a championship team.” -Sparks Head Coach Derek Fisher
The Sparks selected Wiese with the 11th overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft. Wiese appeared in 28 games during her rookie season. Her breakout performance came against the Washington Mystics, when she scored a season high 22 points and set the Sparks individual season high for 3-point field goals made.
During the 2018 season, Wiese suffered a sprained knee and missed 15 games due to injury. She appeared in 11 total games. Despite the setback during her second year, however, she entered the 2019 season with a positive mindset.
“It’s good, it’s competitive, it makes you perform at a high level,” Wiese said about preseason training camp during 2019 media day. “We’re learning about each other and learning that everything that we can improve on is in our control, so I’m excited to see what we can do with it.”
Her attitude and work ethic ultimately paid off, with Head Coach Derek Fisher giving Wiese the starting nod against the Sun on May 31.
“She is the type of player that you have on a championship team,” Fisher said following Wiese’s first career start. “She makes winning plays. She leaves who she’s guarding in order to help another defender, and she isn’t worried about her matchup. She just does the right things.”
Wiese has started her most consecutive games in the WNBA before entering tonight’s contest. But despite the novelty of joining the starting lineup, she cites a preseason matchup against the Phoenix Mercury as a highlight of the season.
“To start the season off [in Phoenix] really meant the world to me,” Wiese, a Phoenix native, said about the game. “I am so grateful for that, especially during Mother’s Day weekend. I was able to stay for Mother’s Day and be with my mom, my grandma, my aunts and everything. It never really gets old playing in front of family… To see familiar faces and to get to hug people after the game, and you hear them cheering in the stands, too – it was really cool to be able to share that day and weekend with them.”