February 9, 2023 

‘DC Mandy’: What Amanda Zahui B. means for Washington Mystics

Veteran center brings size, versatility and excitement

On Tuesday, the Washington Mystics signed veteran center Amanda Zahui B. to a one-year contract, officially bringing her to the nation’s capital after acquiring her rights in a trade on Sunday.

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The Mystics had traded their second-round draft picks in 2024 and 2025 to the Las Vegas Aces in exchange for the 29-year-old Zahui B., who last played in the WNBA in 2021 with the Los Angeles Sparks. Last season, the Sparks suspended her contract, reportedly because of her limited availability due to overseas play. This offseason, Zahui B.’s contract expired, but the Sparks still held her rights until she was traded first to Las Vegas and then to Washington.

Zahui B.’s new contract with the Mystics is for one year at $74,305, the minimum salary for a player with at least three years of WNBA experience. It is unprotected, meaning that she could be cut at any time with no financial penalty for the team, but she is expected to make the Mystics’ roster and contribute off the bench behind the projected starting frontcourt of Elena Delle Donne and Shakira Austin.

“This is a trade that adds a very versatile player to our roster,” Mystics general manager Mike Thibault said in the trade announcement on Sunday. “Amanda can play inside and on the perimeter, a skill set that we value highly in our post players. With her length and athleticism, we are looking forward to her having a significant impact on both ends of the floor.”

Zahui B. is a native of Stockholm, Sweden, and played collegiately at Minnesota. The 6’5 center was the first player in Gophers history to be named an AP First Team All-American, and despite playing just two seasons there, she holds the program record for career blocks with 240. After her redshirt sophomore season, the Tulsa Shock drafted her No. 2 overall in 2015, and she spent one season with Tulsa, five with the New York Liberty and one with the Sparks.

In 2021, Zahui B. averaged a career-high 9.2 points per game along with 5.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 assists in 23.8 minutes per game. Her contract looks like a bargain for the Mystics, who desperately needed size and rim protection on their bench. They have no other reserves on the roster taller than 6’3, and forward Myisha Hines-Allen, who like Zahui B. figures to play a key role off the bench, is only 6’1.

Connecticut Sun center Jonquel Jones shoots a jump shot as New York Liberty center Amanda Zahui B. contests.
New York Liberty center Amanda Zahui B. (17) contests a shot by Connecticut Sun center Jonquel Jones (35) during a game at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. on Aug. 1, 2018. (Photo credit: Chris Poss)

Zahui B. ranks ninth among active players in career block percentage (4.2%), higher than any other frontcourt player on the roster. That is virtually the same rate as Elizabeth Williams had for the Mystics last season (4.1%) in the same role off the bench. And Zahui B.’s WNBA career highs of 37 points and 21 rebounds paint a picture of her upside in the right matchups.

In addition, Zahui B. brings more offensive versatility than Williams, who took over 90% of her shots last season from inside 10 feet. Zahui B. added a 3-point shot in her third season in New York, shooting 34.4% from that distance on 2.1 attempts per game. Over her next three seasons, her attempts climbed to 2.9, 4.8 and 3.6 per game.

That has made her a threat to shoot from anywhere: Since 2018, 43.0% of Zahui B.’s field-goal attempts have been from behind the arc, 38.2% have been within 10 feet and 18.8% have been from the mid-range. That fits well with the Mystics’ system, which relies heavily on spacing and generally features a lot of 3-point shooting.

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Though Zahui B. will take a substantial pay cut from her 2021 salary with the Sparks, she is unmistakably excited to join the Mystics. On social media, she referred to herself as “DC Mandy,” and she also tweeted, “safe to say i have to go back to red hair, yea?!” because of the Mystics’ color scheme.

But the clearest indication of her feelings came in a 29-second video she posted of her dancing with joy. She overlaid text on top of the video that read, “safe to say that i can’t dance to save my life, but y’all girl going to DC and [bringing] all the vibes. Just call me DC Mandy from now on. extremely grateful for this opportunity to play in the W again and for @washmystics for believing in me.”

In that respect, too, Zahui B. will fit right in on a fun-loving Mystics team, alongside players such as Natasha Cloud and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough who can often be found dancing their way through warmups. The Mystics’ hope is that, with Zahui B. and the guard depth the Mystics added this offseason, they will keep dancing late into the fall with a lengthy playoff run.

Written by Jenn Hatfield

Jenn Hatfield has been a contributor to The Next since December 2018 and is currently the site's managing editor, Washington Mystics beat reporter and Ivy League beat reporter. Her work has also appeared at FiveThirtyEight, Her Hoop Stats, FanSided, Power Plays and Princeton Alumni Weekly.

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