Jonquel Jones in action. (AP)
By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
DESPITE a disappointing conclusion to the WNBA season, Jonquel Jones has a star-studded Euroleague roster to look forward to this offseason.
Jones will join defending Euroleague Champions UMMC Ekaterinburg of the Russian premier League and FIBA Europe’s Euroleague during the WNBA offseason.
Back in the WNBA the Sun have also reportedly exercised 4th year team options on Jones, Courtney Williams, Rachel Banham, Morgan Tuck and Bria Holmes. With those options exercised, the Sun will have 11 players under contract through at least the 2019 season.
Last offseason in China, Jones became one of the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association’s most dominant players and led her Shanxi Xing Rui Flames to a runner-up finish in the final.
The star forward averaged a team-high 29.3 points, 18.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists over 31 games for Shanxi Xing Rui.
In the 2016 offseason, Jones was selected No. 5 overall by Woori Bank in the Korean Basketball League and led the team to a championship title.
On the season she averaged 15.8 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks - all team leads - in 24 minutes per game for Woori Bank in 38 games.
At the league’s award ceremony, Jones earned the Foreign Most Valuable Player Award, Defensive Player of the Year award and was named “Best Five” in the league.
She finished the year averaging 15.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per game - a dramatic increase from her rookie season when she averaged 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds a game.
UMMC Ekanterinburg has won four Euroleague, 12 Russian titles and eight Russian Cups in team history.
In addition to Jones, UMMC Ekanterinburg will include Courtney Vandersloot and Kayla McBride.
For the second consecutive year, Jones and the Sun were eliminated by the Phoenix Mercury in the second round of the WNBA playoffs.
Phoenix scored 10 unanswered points over the final 2:32 in the fourth quarter to score a 96-86 win over the Sun.
Jones finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists on 6-9 shooting from the field.
The Sun finished the season 1-3 in matchups against the Mercury.
Last year, the two teams met in the same round and the Mercury eliminated the Sun 88-83 on the road.
Jones was named the 2018 WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, earning the honour as the league’s top reserve for the first time in her three-year career.
Jones, who was voted last season as the 2017 WNBA Most Improved Player, becomes the first player to win both the Sixth Woman and Most Improved awards.
In honour of being named the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year, Jones will receive $5,000 and a specially designed trophy by Tiffany and Co.
Jones averaged 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, a career-high 1.7 assists and 1.24 blocked shots per game this season. She tied for ninth in the WNBA in blocks and ranked fifth in field goal percentage (55.0) and second in three-point field goal percentage (46.7).
With 50 three-pointers made, she surpassed her total from the previous two seasons combined (36). During the Sun’s 9-1 finish to the season, Jones averaged 18.5 points and 6.6 rebounds. That stretch included four games of 20 or more points.