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Times reporter Jayda Evans will have a weekly conversation with a newsmaker in the WNBA. This week she speaks with Washington Mystics guard Ivory Latta, who helped get the team off to its best start since 2009 while dealing with the death of her grandfather this year. Latta is averaging a career-high 15.8 points and 4.1 assists.

Seattle Times: You’re still good friends with Storm forward Camille Little, right?

Ivory Latta: Me and Camille, that’s like my sister for real. We have the same blood, just different parents. We had four great years together (at North Carolina), but what people don’t know is me and Camille have been together since we were like 10 years old. We played AAU together, Team North Carolina, and we won two championships, and then all of a sudden, we both signed to go to North Carolina.

ST: How did you take the move to Washington after not being offered to re-sign with Tulsa?

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Latta: To be honest, I wouldn’t say it was a tough move. It was being smart and more of my career move — not always trying to go for the money. Coach (Mike Thibault) had a lot to do with it. When I talked to him, he knew exactly what he wanted from me. As soon as I got off the phone with him, I called my agent and said, “Look, I’m going to D.C.”

ST: You’ve had a hard road since UNC, getting cut and misjudged.

Latta: When I look back now on my career, everything just made me stronger. I just prayed, and I have a great family that sticks behind me.

ST: What’s the worst you’ve heard about yourself from critics?

Latta: I’ve had some awesome critics. That’s what I call them. I’m not a point guard, I’m a shooting guard. I’m a two guard in a point guard’s body. I’m like, “Are you serious? You’ve never seen me play two guard in college or in the league.”

ST: But the hardest thing you’ve dealt with is your grandfather, June Randolph Faulkner, dying of throat cancer June 4. What did you learn about yourself by choosing to play shortly after that?

Latta: I’ve had other family members pass away but that was unbelievably the worst. He’s my best friend. I always talked to him (while playing) overseas and he’d always tell me, “Watch out! Don’t let nobody get you, I’m going to have to come over there!” One thing I’m taking with me is he’d always tell me, “If I get in a fight with a bear, help the bear.” … He was my No. 1 fan. He was old and he had cancer and we understood, but he was able to watch my first game (season-opening win against Tulsa). I have pictures. They had to hold him up, but he watched the whole game. After the game, they took him to the hospital. So, I’m good. He saw me get a win for him and I talked to him and told him, “Paw Paw, I had four three-pointers for you.”

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