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UNC Basketball: A Tar Heel-centric update on the WNBA season

There were some big UNC-related developments in the WNBA bubble in recent days.

Chicago Sky v New York Liberty Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

As we previewed back in July, the WNBA is playing their 2020 season at the IMG Academy in Florida in a bubble environment.

At time of writing back then, UNC had just one alumnus, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt of the Los Angeles Sparks, taking part, as several notable Tar Heels had opted out of the season. (That’s not counting players that started in Chapel Hill but later transferred away, as there are several of them taking part.)

The league’s regular season is about halfway done, while also checking in on some UNC-related news that’s come out in recent days, so let’s check in.

One of the biggest storylines anywhere in the league was the debut season of Oregon star and #1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu and the New York Liberty. She was quite impressive, but fell prey to an ankle injury in her third game and has left the bubble and will be out for a while. While that is very unfortunate and something you don’t want to see for a rising star, it has allowed a Tar Heel to get a chance.

On August 7th, the Liberty signed former UNC guard Paris Kea to fill their empty roster spot.

Kea graduated from UNC in 2019 and was selected in that year’s WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever. She played in 11 games in her rookie year, averaging 2.6 points per game while shooting over 50% from three. However, the Fever released her back in April before the season and she had been without a team since, changing with the Ionescu injury.

In her Liberty debut, she scored four points in six minutes. However, Kea and the Liberty lost, much as they have all season. Kea hasn’t been able to effect much change for New York far, as their record sits at 1-12.

As for Ruffin-Pratt, she and the Sparks currently sit much higher up in the standings at 9-3. She’s started all but two of the nine games she’s appeared in, and is averaging three points per game. She did miss some time after suffering an ankle injury on August 9th, missing the next three games before returning on the 19th. The Sparks have eased her back in, as she started both games on the bench and played just 13 minutes in the first game back.

The regular season runs through September 12th, with the playoffs starting sometime after that. It seems likely that we’ll at least see Ruffin-Pratt represent the Tar Heels in this year’s playoffs.

Ruffin-Pratt and the Sparks will be next in action today at 6 PM ET when they take on the Dallas Wings, which will air on Facebook. Kea and the Liberty return Tuesday night at 7 PM ET, and that game can be seen on CBS Sports Network.