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Former MVP Nneka Ogwumike becomes second big free agent to sign with the Seattle Storm

SEATTLE (AP) — Former WNBA MVP and eight-time All-Star Nneka Ogwumike signed with the Seattle Storm on Monday, the second big splash in free agency for the franchise.

Ogwumike, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, was the 2016 league MVP and spent the first 12 seasons of her WNBA career playing for Los Angeles. Ogwumike announced last month she would not be returning to the Sparks and ended up signing with one of their Western Conference rivals.

“Every part of me is grateful and ready for this opportunity to continue to be great and sustain legacy,” Ogwumike said.

Seattle is coming off its worst season by winning percentage since its expansion season of 2000 as the franchise tried to move ahead following the retirement of Sue Bird and the loss of Breanna Stewart in free agency. That left Jewell Loyd as the only star on a roster that was otherwise filled mostly with role players and youth.

Loyd now has two stars as her running mates with the addition of Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith, who signed with Seattle last week.

Ogwumike, who will turn 34 in July, averaged 19.1 points and 8.8 rebounds last season for Los Angeles. The past two seasons have been a resurgence for Ogwumike averaging 18.6 points, shooting 55% and starting all 70 games she appeared in over the two seasons.

Ogwumike helped Los Angeles make the playoffs in her first nine seasons in the league, including a championship in 2016. The Sparks have had six coaches in her 12 years with the franchise, including the current one, Curt Miller.

She was also a leader of the franchise as well as the president of the WNBA players association.

“The chance to coach Nneka, a veteran in our league with championship experience, is such an incredible opportunity for our team,” Seattle coach Noelle Quinn said. “Nneka is an efficient scorer, a strong rebounder, an elite defender and is one of the most versatile players in the W. We know she will immediately elevate our play this season.”

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WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball