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Women's Hoops

The latest news and analysis on college and pro women's basketball.

January 31, 2012 at 7:42 AM

Storm brass overseas for WNBA scouting

Storm coach/general manager Brian Agler and Karen Bryant, the team’s president and CEO, arrived in Europe this week to connect with current players and possibly sign a few new ones. WNBA free agency began Jan. 15 with teams making decisions on players to core and starting the negotiating process with those it had the first-rights.
The league released the results of those early talks on Monday and teams are expected to begin announcing the signing of contracts on Wednesday. Agler and Bryant visited with G Tanisha Wright last weekend. An unrestricted free agent, her re-signing should be announced soon.
According to Twitter, Bryant and Agler are currently in Valencia, Spain to check on C Lauren Jackson and scout her Ros Casares’ matchup with G Diana Taurasi’s Galatasaray Medical Park on Wednesday. Both teams are 11-2 and atop the Group A EuroLeague standings with the postseason approaching.
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Beautiful day in Madrid.Catching high speed train to Valencia.Excited to see @laurenej15 and big game vs Gala & Team Taurasi. 2 hours ago via Twitter for iPhone · powered by @socialditto

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Filming a documentary on @seattlestorm organization with us in valencia at practice and games 50 minutes ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® · powered by @socialditto

Having Bryant on the trip allows the depleted Storm to be more proactive in free agency. After giving majority of the 2010 championship crew another shot at winning a title in 2011, the organization made a monumental move in trading F Swin Cash, reserve Le’coe Willingham and a second-round draft pick to Chicago in exchange for the No. 2 selection in April’s draft.
It cleared about $200,000 in cap space, which the team can use to entice players who’ve been reluctant to play in the league in the past — like Belgium C Ann Wauters, who’s the leading scorer for Ros Casares (15.6). Another prospect could be French C Isabelle Yacoubou, 25, who’s also Jackson’s current teammate. Yacoubou plays similar to Willingham and Storm F Camille Little.
While in Israel catching up with Wright, whose team lost 80-73 to Ramat Hasharon on Monday, Agler and Bryant also could have been looking at Amber Holt, a restricted free agent for Tulsa. Holt, a 6-foot F, averaged 6.7 points and 2.4 assists in 26 games last summer.
On the list of unrestricted free agents, Bird is definitely the headliner and the remaining names may have star power, but didn’t provide punch when in the WNBA last year. Bird is expected to re-sign with Seattle, according to conversations with Agler and Bryant in January and Bird in November.
Agler said unrestricted free agent Katie Smith is still in the mix for 2012 and restricted free agent Allie Quigley expects to be in Storm training camp this April. Others attatched to Seattle are preparing for the Olympics like Jackson and may not be available until after the mid-summer Games, if at all.
Washingtonians Leilani Mitchell, New York’s restricted free agent PG, and Catherine Kraayeveld, a unrestricted C who played for Chicago in 2011, are worth a look. But it’s doubtful the Liberty don’t match whatever is offered to Mitchell.
Kraayeveld is stateside, spending some time in the Seattle area this offseason. She could do well on the Storm roster, but if Wauters or even Ruth Riley (unrestricted, San Antonio) are available, they’re probably better prospects. The Storm has tried to sign Kraayeveld in the past, however.
This is Agler’s second trip overseas this offseason and Bryant’s first. In the past she’s traveled to Australia to woo Jackson. The organization is debating about whether another trip is needed, guess that depends on how successful they are this week.

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