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Shoni Schimmel back with Liberty after sitting out last season

NEW YORK -- Shoni Schimmel is back with the New York Liberty in training camp and feeling refreshed after sitting out last season.

The former WNBA All-Star guard spent time with her family and used the time off to get herself right mentally.

"I needed a break, going from high school to college to the pros," Schimmel said Sunday at the first day of New York's training camp.

Her grandmother had been sick and recently died.

"Last year we talked about it and said I'll be back [this] year. I suspended myself," Schimmel said. "Being able to take that year off, I want to thank the Liberty. I've come back ready to work."

The time away from the WNBA gave Schimmel a chance to recover fully from a concussion suffered in August 2016 that sidelined her for the remainder of that season.

"I was out seven weeks with it," she said. "I never had had one before and didn't know how to handle it. I took my time to get myself ready."

Schimmel, the eighth pick in the 2014 WNBA draft, played in 17 games for New York in 2016 after being traded from Atlanta. The former Louisville star was the MVP of the 2014 All-Star Game and is a talented 3-point shooter.

"She does some things you can't really teach," first-year Liberty coach Katie Smith said. "It's good to have her here. She's an easygoing person who can shoot it, pass it and wants to be here, and that's half the battle."

The Liberty are deep at guard with Brittany Boyd, Lindsay Allen and Bria Hartley running the point last season. New York also drafted Kia Nurse in the first round.

Schimmel looked to be fitter than the last time she played with the Liberty.

"I'm definitely ready to compete and am in shape," said Schimmel, who will turn 26 on Friday. "I'm more excited to play than I've been in a while."

She watched the Liberty as much as she could while she was away.

"It was different being on the other side and watching," she said. "They did pretty well last year but came up a little short."

New York had the league's third-best record but for the second straight season was knocked out in the second round of the playoffs. Coach Bill Laimbeer left to take over the Las Vegas Aces, and the Liberty promoted Smith to be the head coach.

The Liberty will look to be more of an up-tempo team, and that suits Schimmel's game well.