Alisha Clark of Mystics makes her first date in Seattle

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Seattle – There was a queue waiting for Alisha Clark as the Mystics finished their shootout Thursday morning at Climate Pledge Arena. Seattle Storm walked onto the field for his session, and several Storm players — Sue Bird, Brenna Stewart, Jewell Lloyd, among others — took a direct line to hug their former teammate.

Clark was a key part of the Seattle side that won a pair of WNBA titles, and Thursday saw her first in the ring wearing a visiting jersey after signing with the Mystics ahead of the 2021 season. The last time she played for Seattle was her third title-clinching game against Las Vegas Aces in 2020, the season in which she unanimously selected the first WNBA Defensive Team.

“I don’t think too much about it because it takes you out of the moment,” said the striker. “I’m here to play a game of basketball. I’m here to win a basketball game. Everything outside of that is just…what it is. These are lifelong friends. You come across that at any point in anything you do.

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“I thought about it, but I didn’t think about it.”

Clark had dinner on Wednesday night with Lloyd and Mercedes Russell. The post-shoot scene looked like a class reunion with everyone wanting to catch up. A warm reception was expected from the Seattle crowd on Thursday night.

In the second round of the San Antonio Silver Stars selection in 2010, Clark didn’t establish herself as a WNBA player until she made the Storm roster in 2012. The city is where she went from leading the nation in scoring as a postal player in Middle Tennessee to a three-point shooting wing And where he developed into one of the best defenders in the league. It’s also where I learned to be a vocal leader.

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“She’s a type of player that I respect a lot because of her development,” Bird said. “And I really feel like I had a front row seat to it, and I saw all her hard work, and it really paid off.

Not many people make this adjustment. Watching it live was really special.”

Her former colleagues still care about her work ethic.

“I had a great time with her, sharing her in court,” Stewart said. “She is obviously happy to be back so well in the capital, but we miss her.

“The thing is that with AC is that she never stopped working and used her motivations, like, to get into the league and she never stopped. She had a very unique path into the WNBA and into her place, to the role. And it’s all thanks to her hard work.”

Soon after signing with the Mystics, Clarke suffered an injury at Lisfranc that cost her the entire 2021 season. It turned out to be just another obstacle that Clark overcomes. Clarke says she’s feeling a lot better, and coach Mike Tybolt said they’re about to scrap the minute restrictions.

Her relief with injury and her new teammates is evident in her scoring – she has hit double digits in four of her past seven matches having only reached this plateau once in her first five. She averaged 8.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists.

Clark’s three-point shot is still improving. It shoots only 31 percent of depth, its lowest since 2014, but 65.1 percent in its two-point attempts is the highest since 2015.

“You see her legs under her a little bit more,” Tibow said. “More aggressive. In general, I say every week she feels better.

“She’s a freshman in the league. She can tell you pretty much what every player in the league is doing. …she has the big picture and the small picture in her brain about, ‘That’s what the team is trying to do and here’s how you can take some individual things out of people.'” It breaks the game down to a slightly different level.”

It all started in Seattle, and Clark credits Storm veterans for setting the track. She learned how to be a professional, what it takes to win the championship, and how to play a role for herself. Clarke isn’t interested in performing in front of old friends and fans, but she does want to draw on lessons learned in the Pacific Northwest.

“If I hadn’t started from here, I don’t think the journey would have been the same,” Clark said. “So I am forever grateful.

“There are so many life lessons to recount everything I learned from here. Seattle has been such a big part of who I am, and who I am as a player. That’s why you will always feel at home.”