Former WNBA Player and Head Coach Raegan Pebley has been named the newest General Manager of the Los Angeles Sparks.
They always says third times a charm.
The third GM since Derek Fishers departure, the Los Angeles Sparks are ready to rebuild their franchise. With a historic draft and free agency on the line, Los Angeles hasn't made the post season since the 2020 season. This morning, Raegan Pebley was named the next General Manger of the Sparks, in faith that she'll fill and exceed expectations of rebuilding the organization.
The Sparks hold the second pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, and the recent news signals the Sparks are turning a new chapter. A franchise that's earned three championship titles, has just 30 wins in two seasons. With this announcement, former GM Karen Bryant will have sole focus on the Sparks business operations. Bryant, a former executive and player for the Seattle Storm, won two championships with Seattle, both in 2004, and 2010.
Bryant was hired as an advisor for Los Angeles in 2021, and notoriously hired Head Coach Curt Miller, after his stint with the Connecticut Sun. In Jan of 2023, Bryant was named chief administrative officer and general manager of the Sparks.
Not taking away from the excellent General Managers around the league, but hiring Women, especially former players, is exciting. Joining Rhonda Windham, Penny Toler, and Derick Fisher, all former GMs, Pebley brings coaching and player experience this team so desperately needs.
Pebley is a former WNBA Player
Originally from Fountain Valley, California, Pebley attended the University of Colorado from 1993-1997. Earning All-Big 12 honors, she was later drafted in the 3rd round by the Utah Starzz in the 1997 WNBA Draft. While only playing eight games in her first season, Pebley would finish her career with the Cleveland Rockers, which is now a defunct franchise. Only playing two seasons, she went on to have an illustrious collegiate coaching career. From there, she became a color commentator for the Dallas Stars.
Having coached women's collegiate basketball since 2003, Pebley brings extensive knowledge of the game from a player and coach perspective. Personally, I truly believe a great General Manger has true appreciation and understanding of the game on all levels. While that's not true for every GM, it certainly adds value in this case.
She coached Women's Basketball for nearly two decades
From 2003-2012, Pebley helped reinstate the Women's basketball program at Utah State. Having finished with just five wins in her first season as head coach, she led the Aggies to a 110-155 record in nine seasons. More impressively, she led the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 teams to the first and second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament. It's important to note she led Utah State Women's Basketball to their first ever WNIT tournament in 2010-2011.
From there, Pebley continued her career in Women's Basketball, as she was hired as the head coach of the Fresno State Bulldogs. From 2012-2014, she led the Bulldogs to a 46-20 record, including a 24-9 record in her first season. After earning consecutive Mountain Western Conference Titles, she led both teams to NCAA First Round appearances.
Similar to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), this is a tournament that is independent, and not run by the NCAA.
After a short stint, the former WNBA player earned the title as the next head coach of the Women's TCU Horned Frogs Basketball Team. Back in the Big 12, she led the program to a cumulative 133-115 record over eight seasons, including four WNIT appearances, and two semifinals. Coincidently, she worked alongside Sparks head coach Miller during the time as an assistant for Colorado State. She earned a cumulative record of 283-268 record as head coach in collegiate women's basketball for three programs.
The future is bright for the Sparks
The move today signals a sign of a new era for the Sparks. While Los Angeles holds the No. 2 and No. 12 pick in this year's draft, they will look to build around future stars. Having endured an eight game losing skid in the midst of last season, Los Angeles won eight of their final 15 games. Eventually, they were booted by the Chicago Sky for the 8th and final playoff seed.
Last season was the case of "what ifs" if the Sparks weren't riddled with such injuries and illness. While they have a talented roster, Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike, Jordin Canada, Layshia Clarendon, Karlie Samuelson, and Katie Lous Samuelson are all unrestricted free agents this off season.
They hold the No.2 pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft
While Nneka Ogwumike has spent her entire career with the Sparks, Pebley will get a shot at a potential historic WNBA draft, while retaining core players, such as Jordin Canada. Her involvement with rebuilding the franchise in the right direction will be instrumental. As for Pebley, her focus is building relationships in the locker room first.
In a statement, Pebley stated, “The tradition and legacy of the Sparks has played a key role in the current trajectory and growth we are seeing in women’s sports,” Pebley said in a statement. “I am eager to partner with our players, front office, coaching staff and community as we foster a culture where our players are resourced with all the tools they need as they courageously chase the best version of themselves and compete for WNBA championships.”
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Sara Jane Gamelli is a full-time Sportswriter at Ballislife, and Sports Content Creator on Twitch and TikTok. She has a focus on the NBA, WNBA, NCAA Basketball, and the NFL. Sara Jane currently resides in Connecticut/NYC area with her Cat and Dog. SJ has her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Economics, with a minor in business administration.Tweets by ballislifewbb_