April 18, 2024 

Camaraderie already strong among Los Angeles Sparks rookies

Rickea Jackson: 'This new draft class has a lot of energy, a lot of fire'

On Wednesday’s introductory media call with the newest members of the Los Angeles Sparks — Cameron Brink, McKenzie Forbes, and Rickea Jackson — one thing was made very clear: these three are very excited not just to be drafted, but to be drafted together. 

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

The transition from competitors to teammates felt seamless in the conversation, with the three responding to each other, echoing each other’s sentiments, and each individually sharing how good they felt about the Sparks’ 2024 draft class. 

Stathead Stat of the Week

Last year, A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart broke the record for most win shares in a WNBA season, with 10.4 and 10.3, respectively.

In addition, they became the second and third players ever to have a season with at least six offensive win shares and three defensive win shares. Do you know the other player to do it? You can see the answer in Stathead! 

Stathead is your all-access pass to the Basketball and College Basketball Reference databases. Our discovery tools are built for women’s basketball fans like you. Answer your questions in a matter of seconds.

Early in the conversation, Brink addressed her new teammates: “Rickea, I had so much fun with you at the draft. I feel like we’re going to do amazing things together. And I had to play against McKenzie this past year and she got buckets, so we were texting each other how we’re finally excited to be on the same team now. I think we’re just going to lean on each other and I couldn’t be more excited about our draft class.” Brink and Forbes have spent the last few days posting on each others’ instagrams, sharing how glad they are to no longer be opponents. 

Forbes added: “I think the three of us can lean on each other, going through the same things at once,” followed by Jackson telling media “having the leverage of Cam on defense, I saw Kenzie at USA Basketball, she’s a bucket too. So having that is pretty cool.”

Jackson also mentioned her close relationship with Zia Cooke, who was visibly thrilled to see Jackson drafted at no. 4 overall on Monday night. The two played AAU together and have been longtime friends. “I’m just grateful to have that,” Jackson added. 

In Brink, Forbes, and Jackson, the Sparks gain three highly versatile players (they agree with this – all three rookies used “versatile” when asked to describe their game in three words), all of whom seem energized about and grateful for the upcoming challenges they’ll face as pros. 

“Just excited to be here with an organization that has a lot of history and wins championships,” said Forbes, who is coming off of a historic season herself at USC. “Obviously just a dream come true to be here and play in front of a lot of the fans that I played in front of this year.” 

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

The Sparks hope to capitalize on the  momentum of the USC and UCLA programs this year, with both programs selling out a number of games and seeing a huge increase in attention. 

When asked how they’ll handle the transition to the WNBA and the strong competition they’ll face (presumably both to make a roster and to win games), both Jackson and Brink shared the sentiment that they’ll need to “give themselves grace.”

Cameron Brink smiles with commissioner Cathy Engelbert and her new Los Angeles Sparks jersey following her selection as the number two overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft.
Cameron Brink was selected with the Sparks’ second overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft. (Photo credit: Brad Penner | USA TODAY Sports)

Added Brink: “I think we just need to remember that we’re going to be playing against the best female basketball players in the world. So it’s going to be a challenge. I think one we’re all looking forward to.” 

The Sparks lost a few major pieces in the off-season: Nneka Ogwumike and Jordin Canada, who were first and second on the team in scoring, respectively, and Karlie Samuelson, who moved into the starting lineup midway through the year in her best season to-date. It’s expected that the team will face a rebuilding year, with hopes of being buoyed by young talent from early draft picks Brink and Jackson. 

“I just talked about how hard I was going to work,” Brink said, when asked about the interview process. “I’m used to the tough coach, the coach that pushes you,” added Jackson. Forbes rounded it out, “[Coach Miller] breeds high IQ players and beautiful offenses, so I’m excited to get going.” 

When asked about what fans should look out for and be excited for this season, Jackson echoed sentiments that have rung across the nation for the past year.

“This new draft class has a lot of energy, a lot of fire, and I feel like that’s what people want to see,” she said. “They want to see our passion for the game.”

Get 24/7 soccer coverage with The Equalizer

The Next is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribers to The Next receive 50% off their subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.

Written by Cameron Ruby

Cameron Ruby has been a contributing writer for The Next since April 2023. She is a Bay Area native currently living in Los Angeles.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.