Katie Lou Samuelson may have spoken this family reunion into existence — by accident.
With the Seattle Storm on the East Coast to play the New York Liberty, and an open spot on the roster, the team was looking for a player to pick up for the rest of the season. Katie Lou Samuelson had someone in mind.
“I was just kind of making comments about it,” she said. “Not in the sense of, ‘Karlie (Samuelson)’s seven-day (contract) is over, she needs a team,’ literally nothing like that was the plan. I was just saying those things, and then I think through word of mouth, people hearing that, then all of a sudden I heard from a couple people, ‘Hey, we’re seeing if your sister might work out.’”
On Monday, the Storm announced it had signed Karlie Samuelson to a contract for the remainder of the season, reuniting the former Los Angeles Sparks guard with her sister, Seattle forward Katie Lou Samuelson, for the first time in the WNBA. Coach Noelle Quinn said the team was looking for an experienced player who will learn the team’s system quickly, something they think they’ve found with Karlie.
“I can tell that she had some conversations with her sister, or she just got in her playbook and is a natural basketball player,” Quinn said. “It was good to see her picking up on things right away and just going hard and bringing energy, and just having confidence in what she’s doing.
“Obviously, we know she’s a very good shooter so that’s a plus.”
It’s not the first time the sisters have played together, though. The Samuelsons starred at Mater Dei High School in Southern California, before separating in college with Karlie heading to Stanford and Katie Lou committing to the University of Connecticut. Following prestigious college careers, the pair briefly spent training camp together with the Dallas Wings in 2020, but Karlie was released right before the beginning of the season.
While a Samuelson reunion didn’t happen in the WNBA that season, the sisters did join forces in Spain. Karlie signed for Perfumerias Avenida in 2019, and the duo helped lead their team to the 2020-21 Spanish League title and finished as the runners-up in the EuroLeague.
So when Karlie’s seven-day contract with the Los Angeles Sparks wasn’t renewed following the activation of Chiney Ogwumike, she jumped at the chance to join her sister in the Pacific Northwest. The fact that the Sparks were also road tripping on the East Coast at the time helped, too.
“It kind of worked out super perfectly,” Karlie said. “It’s definitely crazy.”
Karlie Samuelson appeared in 11 games for Los Angeles this season, starting three times. She averaged 3.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game while shooting 38.2% from the field and 47.8% from three-point range. She’s also averaging career-highs in assists (0.8) and steals (0.3) per game.
However, Quinn hopes Karlie Sameulson’s impact goes beyond just her stats on the court. Seattle’s head coach also thinks the move will help Katie Lou. She emerged as the team’s starting small forward in her first season with the Storm, has been inconsistent at times and has occasionally looked isolated on offense.
Quinn thinks keeping her comfortable will help continue Katie Lou’s development.
“We always talk about Katie Lou, her ability to help us and always making sure she’s feeling good, feeling confident, feeling in a good space,” Quinn said. “I think having that comfort with a family member — her sister — but also someone who can push her. If you look at that matchup with LA, Karlie went at (Katie Lou), no prisoners. So maybe to get that good push, that good confidence, that good uplifting, she can feel it on a day-to-day basis with Karlie being here.”
Karlie Samuelson replaces another Stanford alum, Kiana Williams, on the Storm roster. The No. 18 overall pick in the 2021 WNBA draft, her seven-day contract expired Saturday, and an ankle injury prevented the Storm from extending her despite praise from Quinn.
Williams appeared in eight games for Seattle this season.
“Kiana’s done an amazing job for us, being a rookie in a new setting,” Quinn said. “She handled being a professional well but with her injury, it kind of put us in a tough spot.”
Karlie Samuelson has a chance to make her debut on Friday, as the Storm welcome the Chicago Sky to Angel of the Winds Arena after going 2-3 during its five-game road trip. The game also gives Seattle a chance for revenge, as Chicago beat a depleted Storm team in an overtime thriller to restart the WNBA season on Aug. 15. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.