By RENALDO DORSETT
HEADED into the season finale, the Connecticut Sun were already eliminated from playoff contention, but Bahamian rookie forward Jonquel Jones gave the Sun front office reasons to be optimistic about the team’s future.
Jones scored a season high 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Suns’ 87-78 win over the Washington Mystics at the Verizon Center in Washington DC on Sunday.
Curt Miller, Sun head coach and general manager, said Jones has an opportunity to be a special player in the WNBA for years to come.
“Her long-term future is so bright. She has a chance to be a star in this league,” he told the Norwich Bulletin. “She can score in a variety of ways, she affects the game at the defensive end around the rim, she’s a good rebounder. She’s got a complete game. Now she’s just got to get stronger.”
Jones finished her rookie campaign averaging 6.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shot in just over 14 minutes per game. She shot 53 per cent from the field and 33 per cent from three-point range.
In November, Jones will prepare to continue her pro career as she ventures into the Korean Basketball League after being drafted No.5 by Woori Bank Hansae Chuncheon for the 2016-2017 on July 10 in Seoul, South Korea.
Miller said he expects the versatile Grand Bahamian native to return to the Sun as an improved player.
“We’re really excited about her future and look forward to her going and getting better in her international play, and coming back even stronger in year two,” Miller said.
The DC area provided familiar confines for Jones to cap her season after her stellar collegiate career at George Washington and a high school career at Riverdale Baptist in Maryland.
“GW has a special place in my heart, it’s where I was for four years, and I have teammates and people that really care a lot about me, and I feel the same way about them too,” Jones said. “It’s always special to come to D.C. and see all of them and have a big game.”
The Sun finished the season at 14-20 and are back in the WNBA, however, they traded their No. 1 pick in 2017 to the Los Angeles Sparks in exchange for Jones.
She surpassed her previous season high of 20 and it was her sixth double-digit scoring game of the season and her third consecutive.
“This is our job. Just like any job you have to come in prepared no matter what the circumstances. I get paid to do this, and I love doing it so why not be ready when it’s time to play?” she said. “We started off rough with our chemistry because we had a lot of new pieces. We had four rookies including me. So we just had a lot of things that we had to get better at and had to get used to each other, so I think after that was settled, we really started to play the type of basketball we were capable of playing. And I think that’s going to transfer over to next season for sure.”