November 13, 2023
Dearica Hamby relishes Olympic opportunity
Sparks veteran forward is looking to regain her All-Star form
When Team USA headed to Australia last fall for the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, Dearica Hamby felt like she had a good chance to be on that team.
She ended up being unable to play due to her pregnancy with her son Legend, but as Team USA is gearing up for the 2024 Olympics in Paris this upcoming summer, Hamby is once again part of the potential player pool.
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Personnel from Team USA gathered in Atlanta, Georgia this past week as part of a three-day training camp. In addition to the camp, the preliminary roster for Team USA competed in a pair of scrimmages against Tennessee and Duke. As the selection process continues for the team who will make the trek to Paris, Hamby is just thrilled to be a part of it all.
“It means a lot, I’m surrounded by some of the best players in the world,” Hamby told The Next. “I felt like I had a really good chance to be on that team that went to Australia, but things happen, life happens and I have a beautiful baby boy here now. I’m just excited that they still believe in me and I can come out here and show that I’m still good.”
The 2023 WNBA season was a bit of a trying year for Hamby. She only had about a month off between giving birth and the start of training camp with the Los Angeles Sparks. As the season went on, she gradually looked more and more like the player that was a back-to-back All-Star in 2021 and 2022 and the league’s Sixth Woman of the Year in 2019 and 2020.
Now with Team USA, Hamby is feeling as good as she’s felt physically. She took some time off after season ended but since then she’s been ramping up her workouts and keeping herself in top shape the way she wasn’t quite able to last offseason. She’s been one of the top standouts during camp. She didn’t play in the exhibition against Tennessee but against Duke she had 14 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
“I feel good. I took maybe two or three weeks off after the season and I’ve been back in the gym. I think it’s kind of showing that I’m stronger and I feel like that’s just kind of where I needed to get all those muscles and loosen my body, just tighten back up,” Hamby said. “I feel like myself again. I’m finishing better around the rim, I’m absorbing contact, I’m making my free throws. I had a dribble back three that I don’t think anybody thought I could do, so it feels good.”
But aside from her offseason workouts and commitments with Team USA, Hamby also balances her duties as a mother as well. She’s a mother of two; five-year-old Amaya and eight-month-old Legend, and her days consist of making sure they’re in a routine too alongside her.
“It just balance, literally. Amaya’s in school, I drop her off at school, then I go the gym, I take Legend with me at 9 a.m. We go home, we nap, we eat, then we go workout out at 1 p.m. and then we pick Amaya up from school at 3:15,” Hamby said. “So I’ve got it all figured out. I lock in for my two and a half hours for work and then I give the rest of my time to my kids.”
This past season, her first with the Sparks, Hamby played in all 40 regular season games including 19 starts. As the season went on, she began to look more like the player who helped the Las Vegas Aces become one of the most formidable teams in the WNBA.
She ended the season averaging 24.8 minutes per game, on par with her career averages. She put up 8.9 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 64.8 percent from the free-throw line. It was a tough season overall, not just for Hamby, but for the Sparks in general who missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
Hamby admitted that looking back she often asked herself whether or not she made the right decision in choosing to play the season, but ultimately she knew it was the right choice. She credits Sparks head coach Curt Miller’s system with allowing to her to have a little more freedom on the offensive end.
“I decided to play and LA wrapped their arms around me. I don’t think I had a terrible season. It wasn’t my best season but I think, provided the circumstances and kind of what our team went through, I’m proud of myself,” Hamby said. “This season is going to look a little different for me. Coming from a system where I had a role as run the floor, set screens and roll and just finish your layups, I’m gonna have to be more aggressive on offense and look to get my own shots, create more shots. That’s what I’m working on.”
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As it stands, Hamby is one of six players that will be under contract with the Sparks once the free agency period begins in February. It’s still a few months away, but she’s already looking forward to next season. For her, this is the first offseason in a quite some time that she’s been able to really buckle down and just focus on basketball and getting her body back to where she wants to be.
“This will be the longest that I’ve worked out in the offseason. Very young I had a child and during the offseason I’ve prioritized my daughter and now also my other kid,” Hamby said. “But this is the first year I would say about three weeks postseason I was back in the gym. I’ve been consistent in my schedule, my regimen, so I’m excited to actually see what I look like in May, in February when we come back to camp and then when the season starts.”
Written by David Yapkowitz
David has been with The Next team since the High Post Hoops days when he joined the staff in 2018. He is based in Los Angeles and covers the LA Sparks, Pac-12 Conference, Big West Conference and some high school as well.