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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, July 26, 2013

First-time All-Star Ivory Latta loving life

Spirits were high at Mohegan Sun Arena when the East and West All-Star teams held practices in front of a couple hundred fans. However, you would be hard pressed to find a player who was enjoying herself more than Washington Mystics guard Ivory Latta.

The highlight for Latta was when she sunk a half-court shot earning the $100 that East head coach Lin Dunn promised to the player who was the first to sink a shot from mid-court. When East teammate Epiphanny Prince playfully said she thought Latta's foot was over the line, a fan provided visual proof courtesy of a photo taken with a smartphone and Latta took tremendous pleasure in displaying the proof of her money-making shot.

Latta has been a mercurial player dating back to her days as an All-American at North Carolina. She has bounced around a bit in the WNBA but seems to have found a home in Washington under the tutelage of former Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault.

When Latta found out she would be rewarded for her strong first half by being named to her first All-Star team. Her joy was evident to anybody inside Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday.

"That is what it is all about just coming out here and having fun, you are out here with the best girls in the WNBA and you have no choice but to have fun," Latta said. "This is my first WNBA All-Star game and I am trying to soak it all in. I am enjoying it, I am having a good time. This is what I love to do, get the crowd into it and make sure my teammates are smiling and having fun. This is nothing new to me, this is what I usually do when I am in D.C.

"I was so happy. I knew it was a great honor. I put in a lot of hard work and dedication, I sacrificed a lot. Before the season I didn't even really see my mom, my dad, my family I stayed in Atlanta and I trained hard and I just knew that it would pay off for me. My mom and dad are here with me to soak everything in so it is a great feeling."

Latta also made some news recently when she was hired to be an assistant coach at her alma mater.

"It is a big sacrifice and a lot played into my family, I am a big family person and right now it is all about them," Latta said. "It is a great thing that I am going back to the University of North Carolina to be an assistant coach and I can't wait to work with those girls. We have a great bunch of girls and Coach (Sylvia) Hatchell is like a second mom to me. We have been in touch ever since I left North Carolina, we talk maybe two or three times a week and I am really excited about that experience. I will have on that Carolina Blue but I won't be out there playing.

"We were sitting in the locker room and (New York Liberty guard) Cappie (Pondexter) said that coaching isn't for everybody but you have that personality and that right there made me realize I have the personality to be a coach and I have that passion, that drive and I have a love for the game."

It just so happens that Latta is joining the staff just in time to coach the No. 1 rated incoming recruiting class headlined by former UConn recruiting target Diamond DeShields.

"That is great timing with the recruiting class that we have, DeShields, Jessica Washington and those other players I can't wait but right now I am going to take care of business in D.C."



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