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Amanda Zahui B: Worldwide Spark

ByLinden Moore|@lindenmoore22| June 21, 2021
amanda-zahui-b-wnba

Sporting events serve an electric energy that is hard to rival. During games, one play or even a simple rule violation, can dramatically shift the mood in seconds. However, the energy in the room is only as strong as the people in it — often led by at least one person at the heart of the team’s culture. For the Los Angeles Sparks, Amanda Zahui B. is the energy key.

Amanda has brought her passion and grit to the WNBA since 2015, leaving her mark on the stats sheet in different ways: her tenacious ability to protect the rim has earned her the nickname of “an untapped force in the paint;” her impressive ability to shoot a three-point shot rivals her ability to execute a blocked shot. She’s a teammate’s dream and a daunting match up for her opponents.

Though, one of Amanda’s most impactful qualities can’t be captured by a line on a stats sheet: her upbeat and positive energy — now a key part of her personal brand as a player and as a teammate. “I think it’s one of my best qualities on the court but also as a human; just bringing the energy and making sure that everyone stays up and having fun,” Amanda said at a 2021 postgame press conference.

Amanda’s energy has provided an offensive and defensive spark for LA, and has put the squad on a new level this season. She currently leads the team in blocks (1.8) and defensive rebounds (5.5), while sitting in second in the points per game category (11.8).

On a team that’s known for its positive energy and strong culture, she stands alongside teammates and leaders including WNBA champions Kristi Toliver and Nneka Ogwumike, “She brings a lot of personality to the team,” Nneka Ogwumike said. “I think that’s something that we always love to have.”

Amanda is a presence both on and off the court. While her basketball talent speaks for itself globally, she’s also found her voice to advocate for concerns, causes, and people she cares about. Her personality and work ethic provide a spark wherever she goes. So today, we’re going to take a look at her basketball evolution, her impact on the W, and beyond, as well as what might be next. Let’s get after it.

Amanda Zahui B.’s basketball evolution

Amanda’s journey to basketball took her – quite literally – all around the world. Her story begins in Stockholm, Sweden, where she was born into a diverse family with a French-Spanish mother and a father from the Ivory Coast. Extracurricular activities were a regular topic of conversation in the family’s household, and Amanda quickly found that sports were a solid fit for her.

Amanda loved being active, and did so by dabbling in a variety of activities from tennis to soccer and even field hockey. But the more she grew, the more her parents pushed her towards basketball. Soon enough, a 10-year-old Amanda was starting to find her way on the court. It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the game, although there were things she needed to work on.

“I was terrible and awful at basketball; I couldn’t make a layup to save my life,” she said of her introduction to the game in a video with Give Me Sport last year.

“But I fell in love with the game and am a hardworking person. I started working hard at it and was encouraged by coaches, who somehow saw potential in me. I had no idea I’d be where I am today.”

Basketball soon became her sole focus, and she dedicate herself to honing her craft in the gym. Amanda Zahui B. became a common name for Sweden on the international basketball scene in 2007 when she averaged a double-double (12.4 points and 12.1 rebounds) at the U16 European Championship as a 13-year-old, while other people her age were more likely to be studying or hanging out with friends.

“I didn’t know there was a national team, especially at that age. I was so stoked – I was excited, and I made the team. I couldn’t explain the feeling that I had when I made the tournament. Then I stuck around,” she recalls.

The lights-out performance was just the beginning for Amanda, as she continued to set herself apart from the others. This ultimately created the foundation that she would later build upon, going to play in the U16 Euros for two more summers.

With her sights set on reaching the highest level of basketball, she moved into an apartment by herself at the age of 15, and started training with Igelstavikens Gymnasium. Consequentially, she dominated during her high school years, and earned numerous awards, including Center of the Year for two consecutive seasons, on top of a Rookie of the Year award in 2009.

Her improvement continued to skyrocket and landed her an invite to the U18 international team age group in 2010. Amanda was in full force once again, as she averaged 15.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.7 blocks per game as a 16-year-old. History repeated itself a year later, as she was in similar form, averaging 15.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game to lead Sweden to the semifinals of the 2011 European Championships.

Amanda’s time in the blue and yellow uniform also came with nine all-star game appearances, six of which occurred during the Young Swedish Championships. She eventually became a two-time MVP — three times during the Nordic Championship. And she led Telge Basket in two consecutive Swedish League Championships where they went undefeated in the playoffs. Her top-notch performance continued as she averaged 16.7 points, 14 rebounds, 2.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game in the championship series.

Amanda Zahui B.’s basketball career at Minnesota

It didn’t take long for Amanda’s impressive performances in Europe to catch the attention of college coaches in the United States. Across the Atlantic, Minnesota’s then coach Pam Borton knew a center like Amanda would complement their roster, complete with highly skilled recruits such as Rachel Banham. Pam Borton had nothing but praise for Amanda as part of her 2012 recruiting class, calling her a “skilled, versatile, and athletic player.”

“She is a great rebounder and scorer around the rim and that is something that we need in our program,” Pam said of Amanda’s signing.

“She is a presence in the paint, and we are looking for Amanda to be a dominant force and make an immediate impact.”

The Gophers, however, had to wait a year to see the center in action, as Amanda redshirted her freshman year during the 2012-13 season. But as the saying goes: good things take time. When Amanda did suit up in the 2013-14 season, she made a statement.

She went on to average double-doubles with 15.4 points and a conference-best 11.5 rebounds per game in Big 10 play. Defensively, she became Minnesota’s single season record with 105 blocks, while her 100 blocks also rank 6th on the Gophers’ career list. Additionally, she holds the program record for defensive rebounds in a season with 267.

Her second season in the maroon and gold was certainly one to remember. Her play was on another level, as was evident with four 20+ rebounding performances throughout the season. Defensively she became the Gophers’ all-time blocks leader with 240 career blocks, in addition to setting a single-season record in total rebounds (426), defensive rebounds (299), and blocked shots (135). She also became Minnesota’s career leader in rebounding average (12.2) and total blocks (240). Offensively, she became the 22nd Gopher, and just the fourth sophomore in the program’s history to join the 1,000-point club with 1,135 career points. She was rewarded for her efforts.

Amanda Zahui B’s awards

Her honors included:

  • Big Ten and Minnesota single season record holder for rebounds (394)
  • Minnesota single season record holder for blocks (105)
  • Wade Trophy Finalist
  • The third Naismith Trophy finalist in program history
  • Candidate on the John R. Wooden Award National Ballot
  • Big Ten Player of the Year, as voted by the media  
  • A unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten First Team by both coaches and media
  • Member of the Big Ten All-Defensive Team
  • The first player in Minnesota’s history to be named to the AP All-America First Team

Amanda Zahui B. in the WNBA

It didn’t take long for Amanda to find the spotlight in her two seasons in Minnesota, and when she did, it caught the attention of WNBA coaches and basketball executives. Following her AP First Team All-American selection in her sophomore year, Amanda opted to declare for the 2015 WNBA Draft. Her draft stock had been trending upward, after she finished the previous college season ranked fourth nationally with 18.8 points, 12.9 rebounds, and 4.1 blocked shots per game. 

The accolades caught the attention of Tulsa Shock head coach Fred Williams and his front office, who ultimately selected Amanda with the second pick. The reason was simple: Coach Williams said they saw from early on Amanda’s potential to “develop into a franchise center capable of dominating the middle for 10 or 12 years.”

“They don’t come along that often in this league,” Fred Williams told Tulsa World post-draft.

“We really had no choice. We just felt Amanda, with her size, and being young and having a lot of experience, you couldn’t pass that up.”

Individually, hearing her name called in the draft was a major item checked off of Amanda’s bucket list. Coming from overseas and having had a taste of what the best competition in the world would be like, Amanda had set her sights on playing in the WNBA.

“That was definitely a dream come true,” she said, reminiscing on draft day. “Playing in Europe and growing up here, I always watched the Euro league and European competition, so I went to America and the University of Minnesota, so that’s when the dream of being in the WNBA blossomed. Being drafted into the best league in the world and going second, it’s definitely a blessing. You can’t describe that feeling.”  

Similar to her time in Minnesota, Amanda spent her first season in the WNBA learning while on the bench, meaning reduced minutes. She had landed on a team that was filled with a mix of mostly younger talent, including fellow 2015 draft pick Brianna Kiesel in addition to Odyssey Simms.

Most of the team’s scoring that season came from Skylar Diggins-Smith, who was in her third professional season at the time and veteran Plenette Pierson, who already had over 10 years of experience in the league. While the results didn’t always end up favorably, Amanda still praised her teammates for getting through as a unit.

Shortly thereafter, the New York Liberty acquired Amanda from the Tulsa Shock which had been rebranded as the Dallas Wings. “With the addition of Amanda Zahui B, we have addressed our needs in the front court not only for this season, but for the future of the franchise,” said then New York Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer. “Amanda is an exceptional talent, and at 6-5, her offensive abilities are unique for a player her size. She will immediately make us a more dynamic team on the offensive end of the floor, while her skills as an interior defender complement our defensive identity.”

Though, at the time, Amanda felt she had lost most of her confidence and ability to believe in herself. “I came to New York very confused, shattered in many ways, and really kind of lost. Lost in God’s plans. I had no clue that NY would become home. From riding the bench, busting my ass in practices, studying the game with T- Spoon day in and day out, I grew so much as a player and even more as a person.” she later shared in an Instagram post.

Of her five well-spent seasons in New York, Amanda made her biggest impact in the 2020 season, serving as a “baby vet” on a team laden with rookies. Amanda averaged 9.0 points and 8.5 rebounds that year, partaking in all but one of the 22 games. 

“We’ve had great seasons and the last two haven’t been as good as we’ve wanted it. But we always stuck by each other’s sides, pushing each other mentally and physically making sure we’re good on and off the court,” she told Give Me Sport. “I think that’s so important because we play year round.”

The following year, as the sports world continued to reset in gearing up for a post-pandemic landscape, so did free agency. Amanda was a free agent starting the 2021 season and made headlines herself when she personally announced that she was traveling almost 2,800 miles across the country when she signed with the Los Angeles Sparks. As someone who always strives to improve her craft, Amanda was excited for the opportunity to learn from Derek Fisher.

“I am thrilled at the opportunity to continue my career with the Los Angeles Sparks,” she said in a media release. “From my first conversation with Coach Fisher, I knew right away that playing for the Los Angeles Sparks was a place where I could grow not only as a player but as a person. I’m so excited to be a part of this storied franchise and compete for a championship with my new teammates and fans.”

The last time she was at the Staples Center she was playing for the Liberty, where she netted 37 points and 7-8 in three-pointers that secured a Liberty win 98-92. Fittingly, it didn’t take long for her to get used to Los Angeles.

“I feel like I always have my best games out here,” she told the Los Angeles Sentinel. “I’m really excited to just keep building on that and play at my best every night when we play at home.”

The Sparks certainly knew what she was capable of and were in a position to help her become a tougher opponent in multiple ways. “I want to be a presence, so we have multiple threats on the court,” she said at the Los Angeles Sparks 2021 media day. “[I want to] guard the best post players and get them tired so we can run on the other side and bring a lot of energy. That’s my personality; every single person on this roster is amazing and it shows in practice. We be going at it and it’s fun.”

Despite the less than anticipated team record to start out, Amanda has still enjoyed being with her new team. In her own words, she’s “so blessed to be a Sparkle.”

“Honestly, I’m having so much fun,” she said in an article with the Los Angeles Times. “This is one of the most fun seasons that I’ve had in the WNBA. Even when we struggle a little bit, we have the best people on the best hyping us up, there’s always energy, and that’s what makes it so much fun.”

Amanda Zahui B. on the Los Angeles Sparks bench in 2021

Amanda Zahui B. overseas

Aside from her experience with the Swedish national team, Amanda has played in a variety of countries – which is perhaps one of the reasons her transition to the Sparks went so seamlessly. She’s used to establishing herself in a new environment and with a new team.

She played for Adana in the Turkish League during the 2015 season, a popular landing spot for WNBA players. She spent the following year with Orenburg in the Russian Premier League, while also competing in EuroLeague women where she helped guide the team to the quarterfinal. She took a similar approach in 2017, as she played for USK Praha in the Czech League and EuroLeague Women.

Though her overseas experience looked a bit different in 2019. Instead of flying to Europe, Amanda flew to China as part of Shandong Sports Lottery of the Chinese Basketball Association. Her time with Sports Lottery included a leading 18.7 points per game on 57.2% shooting to go with 11.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. However, the season was shortened to give China’s national team more time to prepare for Olympic qualifiers, before ultimately being cancelled due to COVID-19. She then play for Hatay in Turkey for one game in March where she tallied 12 points and 10 rebounds in the one appearance. She later returned to Russia in 2020 for Women’s Dynamo Kursk in the EuroLeague.

Amanda Zahui B.’s stats

Amanda’s stats have gradually improved throughout her seven seasons so far in the WNBA. Despite logging only an average of 9.7 minutes in her first season, she made the most of her playing time averaging 3.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks per game. She also tallied a first-year career high of five blocks, tying the Tulsa Shock record for most blocks in a game. She concluded her first season not only having learned from teammates with more experience than her, but also ranked sixth among all rookies in blocks per game.  

Amanda’s second season in 2016 came with a change of scenery. Fresh off a season playing for Adna in the Turkish League, Amanda returned to America to find out that she had been acquired from the Dallas Wings along with a 2017 second round pick in exchange for New York’s first round draft pick in 2017. So long were the days of being in the Midwest, as she headed straight to the concrete jungle to play for Bill Laimbeer.

The change of location also brought a new roster. Playing in New York meant she got the opportunity to learn from names such as Tina Charles, Carolyn Swords, and Rebecca Allen. Tina Charles, a fellow center, led the team in pretty much every category with an average of 21.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 0.8 blocks during the 2016 season. However, Amanda still found ways to make an impact despite only seeing an average of 11.3 minutes of action.

The growth in her game started to show that year. Offensively, her shooting percentage began to increase slowly but surely; ultimately she finished second season with a 44.9 percent field goal percentage, which was a jump from 36.1 percent in her first season with Tulsa. On the defensive side, she finished the 2016 season having averaged 3.2 rebounds a game, again another jump from her 2.4 average the year prior. By the end of the 2016 season, Amanda was ranked 24th in the WNBA with 0.7 blocks per game and added six games in double figures to her resume.

Amanda Zahui B.'s stats per game
Via Basketball Reference

She returned to the seafoam for a second season in 2017, her third overall in the league. It was an unusual year, as she saw her lowest stats since being drafted into the league: she appeared in only 29 games while averaging 2.2 points, 1.1 rebounds and 0.2 blocks per game. A quiet season ended with a season high of eight points as the team went 22-12.

Her role in 2018 afforded her 29 appearances and accordingly her stats continued to soar – including her highest three-point percentage of 34.4 percent and 50 percent from field goal range. Her totals increased a bit from the year before as well, tallying an average of 7.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in regular season play.

Fast forward to the 2019 season, where Amanda saw more progress. Although she was delayed in joining the team due to overseas commitments, she still averaged 8.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. But perhaps one of her most memorable performances came against the Los Angeles Sparks when she fired off a career-high 37 points and 13 field goals in 35 minutes at the Staples Center in June 2019.  

However, her final season with the Liberty would shape up to look different than anyone imagined. As the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm, Amanda was in Sweden awaiting word about her sixth season. It was up in the air if the 2020 WNBA season was to actually happen, before a bubble was formed in Bradenton, Florida in July 2020.

The Liberty played 22 games, of which Amanda played in 21 and started 20. Despite the circumstances, she continued to show her growth as a player, as she posted some of her best WNBA numbers yet, with 9.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 25.3 minutes per game. Then, there was the highlight of 21 rebounds against the Las Vegas Aces on August 29, which set the Liberty single-game rebounding record, in addition to the all-time WNBA single-game defensive rebound record. She led the league in defensive rebounding percentage at 34.2 percent and on top of that, notched 34 three-point field goals, which ranked 1st amongst all centers in the WNBA.

She continued to shine in the category of blocked shot, ending the season with a total of 26, earning the seventh most blocks in 2020.

WNBA blocks chart 2020
Via Basketball Reference

By 2021 Amanda made the decision to don a Sparks uniform, is now playing some of her best professional basketball yet. Although it’s still early in the season, she’s already averaging 11.3 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in an average of 27.7 minutes. Plus, she delivered a memorable start to her career with Los Angeles: on June 5, 2021 she tallied her 1,000 career points during her 13 point, 10 rebound, and four block performance, earning her first double-double in a Sparks uniform and her eighth one overall.  

Amanda Zahui B.’s WNBA strengths

Amanda Zahui B.’s offensive and defensive strengths make her a hard match up.

1. Scoring

Scoring has been an aspect of Amanda’s game that has improved throughout her time in the WNBA. She’s second in scoring on the Sparks in 2021, with an average of 11.8 points per game and 47.7-percent from field goal range. Her versatility as a scorer also compliments her defensive abilities, putting in her position as a multi-threat player for the Sparks.  

WNBA shooting stats 2021
Via ESPN

2. Spacing

Amanda’s elite ability to create space for her teammates has served the Sparks well. Given that the roster has a plethora of shooters such as Erica Wheeler, her ability to stretch the floor will give the Sparks more opportunities offensively.

Derek Fisher said it best: “Amanda’s ability to stretch the floor, I think that gives our perimeter players more space to get into the lane and make some things happen which I think for Brittney Sykes, Erica Wheeler, Te’a Cooper, there were more driving lanes available when you have players like Amanda that can stretch the floor offensively.”

3. Shot blocking

Amanda’s ability to block shots has been a staple in her game throughout her career. Her height of six-foot-five gives her an advantage to prevent shots falling from the other side. It’s also a category that she’s gradually improved within the last few seasons with the Liberty and now with the Sparks, as she went from averaging 0.4 blocks in 2018 to 1.4 blocks in 2019 and 1.2 last year. Currently she’s averaging 1.8 blocks this season for the Sparks in the first half of the season, which is fourth overall in the league.

Via WNBA

4. Communication

Being a seventh-year veteran, Amanda has grown her leadership skills throughout her time in the WNBA. She’s since emerged as a leader and a vocal presence on the Sparks, both while on the floor but also while cheering on her teammates from the sidelines. For example, she almost lost her voice last month when the Sparks played the Chicago Sky because she was talking to her teammates and cheering them on during the game.

As coach Fisher describes it, “Amanda’s communication is off the charts.”  

Overall, Amanda’s ability to communicate with her teammates and coaches has helped her blossom into a leader that people gravitate towards. She sparks the energy on and off the bench, which no doubt adds to the team’s successful culture.

Amanda Zahui B.’s opportunities in the WNBA

It can be hard to pinpoint certain areas of growth for Amanda, especially given that she has made step-change improvements each year in the league. However, there are a few aspects that can take her game to the next level.

1. Consistency

Prior to the 2021 season, Amanda discussed how she wanted to work on her consistency so she could be a “stronger presence in the paint”. She’s certainly on her way to achieving that both as a defender and as a scorer; however there are areas she can work on being more consistent in, such as offensive rebounds (she’s currently averaging 0.6 per game, which is seventh on the team as a whole).

2. Turnovers

Turnovers are another area that Amanda can improve upon as part of her overall game. Although she’s solid with scoring the ball, she also averages 1.9 turnovers per game with the Sparks. While she’s improving in that category compared to her average of 2.6 the prior year with the Liberty, turning the ball over fewer times will give her team more chances to score.

A vocal leader in the WNBA and around the world

But Amanda’s energy isn’t dedicated solely to basketball. In fact, her energy and passion span much wider than sport. When she’s not cheering for her teammates or advocating for her fellow teammates, she’s dedicated to creating conversations around different issues, including ones that carry personal meaning for her both in the United States and back home in Sweden.

In particular, Amanda was one of (and still remains) a vocal leader around the topic of racial injustice. This is particularly personal to her because even though she grew up in a diverse household, she soon learned that the diverse surroundings of her upbringing were largely ignored in much of Sweden. She often grappled with “being Black in Europe and being viewed as a white person when I’m in the Ivory Coast.” As she explained to the New York Times, “We don’t really promote people of color out here, and if we do, we are very light.”

In America, Amanda didn’t always feel comfortable about vocalizing her thoughts on these issues. Despite the encouragement from family and friends, she felt uncomfortable speaking out. But her move to New York changed all that. There, the team had already started having similar conversations.

She began to find her voice and ultimately became a vocal presence regarding what actions the Liberty should take throughout the 2016 season. That summer, the Liberty wore black warm-up shirts with messages supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and staged a media blackout, and at least one player sat during the national anthem.

Being a leader isn’t always easy, though. While being a contributor in this space has allowed her to educate others, it inevitably takes a toll mentally.

“I speak up, and I’m going to get something back. But learning how to really show that I’m actually human — like, I cry myself to sleep, I have nightmares, we all go through depression and we are all scared and upset — that’s kind of like the growth I’ve had, especially since coming to the Liberty,” she told the Times.

The year 2020 shined an even brighter spotlight on the issue. For starters, Amanda was in Stockholm, Sweden in May when George Floyd was killed by cops in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Unable to travel back to the States to participate in protests due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she sat in her apartment, pondering ways she could help advocate for change while being so far away.

 With a heavy heart and passion bubbling over, she took matters into her own hands. If people weren’t going to talk about it on their own, she was going to help lead the charge. To do this, she strategized with her agent to see if she could organize a Black Lives Matter protest in Stockholm in June 2020, prior to a pre-planned event on June 3. She promoted it to her massive twenty-three thousand Instagram following, along with major Swedish news stations. She also offered to discuss the issue of race with reporters, however, was directed to interviews about basketball instead.

But she didn’t give up. Instead, she strategically decided to decline to talk about basketball in an effort to have conversations about “what really matters.” On top of that, she also refrained from giving interviews with certain Swedish stations until they made an effort to address race as part of their news coverage.

In response to the media’s attitudes toward her ideas, she opted to post a series of Instagram videos with an unfiltered take on race for her Swedish followers to keep the conversation going. She acknowledges that it did cause discomfort for some of her followers, but that didn’t deter her from continuing, as she noted being uncomfortable in these situations was necessary for progress in understanding.

Aside from social justice advocacy, Amanda’s also involved with Loka Heroes, which is a group that supports community members in Sweden who promote and champion basketball. Specifically, she works with a group that involves girls from areas in Sweden that are at a rate of less than four percent regarding participating in activities aside from schoolwork. Amanda says this number is “extremely low”, and their subgroup specifically brings them together to play basketball while also forming relationships. Ultimately, she hopes to bring similar projects worldwide.

These avenues have given her a platform to connect with her fans, who she hopes will become change makers in the years ahead.

“I don’t think I’m famous; I think I’m known. I’m a very lowkey person – I don’t put myself out there unless I really have to,” she told Give Me Sport. “I think it’s cool, people recognize you and thank you for the work you do outside of basketball. That’s very important for me that I can make a change and leave a light in people’s hearts and minds. I appreciate it the most when people recognize that. I’m still getting used to strangers walking up to me from time-to-time. Even young boys walk up to me and be like ‘you’re so cool I want to be you’, I’m like ‘ok cool, be better.’ I love that the generation coming after me has someone they can look up to and be like ‘you’ve reached every single level of this and that and I want to do that.”

Amanda Zahui B. defends Tina Charles

What’s next for Amanda Zahui. B

Looking at 2021 statistics so far, this season is shaping up to be Amanda’s best to date in her seven years with the WNBA. Her presence has come to the benefit of Derek Fisher and his staff, as she’s one of the top performers in points, rebounds, and blocks.  

With these numbers, she’s also making a strong case to position herself as a potential All-Star. The WNBA announced earlier this month that the 17th annual All-Star Game will take place on July 14 in Las Vegas and will comprise of WNBA’s top talent in a matchup between the All-Stars voted-in from the USA Basketball Women’s National Team and the remaining WNBA All-Stars voted-in as part of a combination of fan, player, media, and coach voting.

Currently, Amanda’s in the Top 5 Defensive Rating (93.1) and a league leader in 2-point FG percentage (.677). Her upward trend in not only defense but also in offensive contributions gives her a strong case to be part of an All-Star front court next month.

Reflecting on her journey in the WNBA thus far, Amanda recognizes the strides she’s made over the past seven years, while also acknowledging the growth it took to get there.

“My journey’s been different than a lot of people’s, especially being drafted so high up,” she said.

“It’s been a grind but now when I’m out there, it’s like ‘I made it.’ I’m starting to make a name for myself and I’m playing with and against the best players in the world every single night.”

The number of years that Amanda’s been in the league so far is merely just a number on a stat sheet. Her potential has no ceiling; one day she hopes to one day make the Olympics and World Championships with the Sweden national team.

“I’m not done playing for a while,” she said. “We didn’t make it to the Olympics with the national team, so we’ve got the Europeans [Championships] up next, the Worlds, and Olympics in the future. I have a lot of big goals that I want to reach.”

In keeping with that, she isn’t easily satisfied with her performances.

She says: “I’m always trying to get better. That’s my thing in everything that I do – I’m sort of a perfectionist and I don’t think my W journey has been perfect yet. It’s been fitting and just perfect for me, but I haven’t reached the finals yet, I haven’t started every single game, and that’s what I want to do. I want to be a key player, a role player. I’m always building I’m never going to stop. I rarely feel satisfied with the work that I do.”

For now, expect to see Amanda and her iconic curly hair putting it all on the line for the purple and gold. Whether it’s in the gym or in the community, Amanda’s track record both as a player and as a teammate shows that no matter where she is around the world, one thing remains certain: Amanda Zahui B. is always serving energy.  

Up next, learn more about Amanda’s Sparks teammate Nneka Ogwumike.

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