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UNC basketball: Tar Heel alumns helping teams to WNBA playoffs

Five former UNC players have helped their teams into the WNBA playoffs.

San Antonio Stars v Phoenix Mercury Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

While it hasn’t exactly been on the level of the men’s basketball team, women’s basketball at UNC has had plenty of success over the years. They’ve had some lean years in recent times, as they were arguably the Tar Heel team most affected by the NCAA investigation. However, Sylvia Hatchell’s team appears to be on the way back, picking up wins over the likes of Duke last season.

Much like the men’s team, the women’s team has produced a fair number of professionals over the years. We love to keep tabs on former Tar Heels in the NBA, so let’s check in on the five currently in the WNBA. Plus, it just so happens that all of their teams are having pretty good seasons.

The second-best record in all of the WNBA currently belong to the Atlanta Dream, who feature former Tar Heel Jessica Breland.

Breland has started every game for Atlanta, and is having possibly the best season of her seven-year career. She won the league’s player of the week award back in mid-July, thanks in large part to a 23 point, 10 rebound, and four-block game on July 11th. She’s averaging 8.0 points and 8.1 rebounds. The rebound number is a career high, as are her 2.1 assist and 1.9 blocks per game totals.

Sitting a game behind Atlanta in the standings are the Washington Mystics, who feature two former Tar Heels. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and LaToya Sanders are both regulars for Washington.

Sanders has started all but three of the Mystics’ games this season, and has been putting up career highs basically across the board. Since the end of July, she’s had a couple of good games, including a 17 point, 12-rebound game as the Seattle Storm, who currently have the league’s best record.

Ruffin-Pratt has been an occasional starter, but has spent most games coming off the bench. She’s still given Washington 18 minutes per game.

The Minnesota Lynx are defending champions, but Erlana Larkins is in her first season with the team. She originally signed a seven-day contract with them in early July, but she ended up catching on with them for the rest of the season.

As would be expected with someone who originally signed a short-term contract recently, she’s not exactly been a major rotation piece. However, Larkins is still getting some decent minutes, and had a solid, eight-point night in a game as Las Vegas, which was a key result in the playoff race.

The fifth Tar Heel still in the league is the longest-tenured veteran, Camille Little.

Little in in her 11th season, and second with the Phoenix Mercury, who also have clinched a playoff spot. She’s mostly a bench player, who hasn’t massively been relied on to put up points. However, she’s a consistent minute-getter for a playoff team.

Eight teams make the playoffs in the WNBA. All five player have made it with four different teams, meaning half the teams will feature Tar Heels. None of them have been all-stars, but it’s nice to see them still getting stuff done at the next level.