2024 Aces Home Opener

Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Aces guard Jackie Young (0) takes the ball upcourt during the second half of an WNBA basketball game against the Phoenix Mercury at Michelob Ultra Arena in Mandalay Bay Tuesday, May 14, 2024.

A lot of people “looked sideways” at the Aces when they drafted Jackie Young first overall in the 2019 WNBA Draft.

However, that belief in the guard from Notre Dame is paying off for the Las Vegas Aces (2-0) early on in the 2024 season.

After throwing down 23 points in Tuesday’s win over the Mercury, Young recorded 22 points and 11 assists to guide the Aces past the Los Angeles Sparks, 89-82.

The performance was her first career points and assists double-double.

“I’m super proud of what she’s doing,” forward A’ja Wilson said. “I remember at halftime I was like, ‘You’re gonna go get a double-double. I can already see it,’ so I’m glad that she did that. We need that out of her.”

Young played a key role in igniting the Aces’ perimeter game with four 3-pointers. She was also just four rebounds shy of a triple-double.

Chelsea Gray is the only Aces player to ever record a triple-double.

“I’ve just been aggressive from the start,” Young said. “I’m just having confidence whenever I have the ball.”

“I know that coach has confidence in me and I know that I’m gonna have the ball a little bit more now that Chelsea (Gray) is out.”

Young was not the only player to break double figures in more than one category.

Wilson recorded a second-straight double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Despite low shooting numbers in the beginning of the game, Aces coach Becky Hammon has the utmost confidence in Wilson. She said that slower starts are a product of these earlier season games and getting timing down.

“She’s (Wilson) the best player on the planet,” Hammon said. “She ain’t go nowhere. She could go 1-for-8 or 1-for-30. I ain’t taking her out…”This is like our second game of the year and I think just getting timing down and seeing where people are coming from.”

Hammon also praised the play of the shooting guards, mainly Young and Kelsey Plum. Alongside Young’s 3-point shooting numbers, Plum drained 3-of-7 shots from outside the arc. She finished with 17 points. The Aces shot for 41.9% (13-of-31) from 3-point range.

Hammon said that the shooting guard position is the most difficult to play in the WNBA.

“Playing point guard in this league is the hardest position to play,” Hammon said. “They [Young and Plum] never want to come out.”

“They get mad they think they can go for 40 but it’s the cumulative effect especially with those two because they’re basically involved in every play offensively and defensively.”

With Indiana Fever’s Caitlin Clark coming to town in a week, the Aces got to face off against the No. 2 pick in the draft, Sparks forward Cameron Brink.

While Brink had four fouls and just three points, her impact was felt on the defensive side of the ball. She’d finish with eight rebounds and an impressive five blocks.

“She (Brink) has a really bright future,” Wilson said. “I’m glad that the Sparks drafted her because I feel like that’s a great franchise for her to grow in.”

The Aces rematch with the Phoenix Mercury 7 p.m. Tuesday at Michelob Ultra Arena.

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