Mercury Signs All-Star Sancho Lyttle

Official release

February 1, 2018

The three-time WNBA Champion Phoenix Mercury today announced the signing of free agent and former WNBA All-Star forward Sancho Lyttle.

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“Sancho was our top free-agent target outside our own roster and we are truly excited that she chose Phoenix,” said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman. “The last two WNBA MVPs have been elite frontcourt players from Western Conference teams and their clubs have won championships. It takes elite defensive frontcourt players to compete with that, and to pair Sancho with Brittney Griner is ideal for us. Sancho has won everywhere she has played, our goal is to win a championship, and we are confident this move gets us closer.”

“I was fortunate to coach Sancho in Russia for several years and she is a true pro,” said Mercury Head Coach Sandy Brondello. “She knows where to be on both ends, she has championship experience all over the world, and she makes her teammates better. I’ve seen her play with Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner and I know how well she will fit in with our team and how much better she will make us.”

The 6-foot-4 Lyttle is a six-time WNBA All-Defensive Team selection, including a two-time First Team (2012, 2014) and four-time Second Team (2009, 2010, 2011, 2015) honoree. A former All-Star (2009), Lyttle is one of only two players in WNBA history who have led the league in steals in three seasons or more (five-time Defensive Player of the Year Tamika Catchings) and is the only power forward to do so. To put that in perspective, last season Golden State’s Draymond Green became the first NBA power forward to lead the league in steals since the stat was first recorded in 1973-74. Lyttle ranks ninth all-time (fourth among active players) on the WNBA’s career steals list (606 steals). 

The 34-year-old Lyttle owns career averages of 9.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.7 steals in 354 games. Lyttle is coming off a 2017 campaign in which she averaged 8.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 29 games, while moving into 12th place on the WNBA’s all-time rebounding list (2,447 rebounds). Her 1.6-steal average a season ago (6th in the WNBA) made her one of only five forwards in the top-10, joining All-Stars Maya Moore, Nneka Ogwumike, Alyssa Thomas and Candace Parker.

A winner at every level, Lyttle has made three WNBA Finals appearances (2010, 2011, 2013) and seven WNBA postseason trips. Born in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the West Indies, and a Spanish national, Lyttle is a two-time World Championship medal winner with the Spanish National Team (2010 – bronze, 2014 – silver), and a two-time EuroBasketball gold medal winner (2013 – MVP, 2017). She is a four-time EuroLeague champion (2011, 2012, 2014, 2016). The 2016 EuroLeague title came while playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia alongside new Mercury teammates Taurasi and Griner, and for Mercury coaches Brondello and Todd Troxel. In their two years together, the trio led Ekaterinburg to a combined 25-3 EuroLeague record and a 55-3 Russian League mark, and to Russian League titles in 2016 and 2017.

Originally the fifth overall pick of the 2005 WNBA Draft by the Houston Comets, Lyttle was then acquired by Atlanta with the first selection in the 2008 Houston dispersal draft. Prior to the WNBA, she was a two-year standout at the University of Houston where she led the nation in rebounding her senior season and earned AP All-America Honorable Mention.