By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
IN addition to playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) All-Star game, Bahamian Jonquel Jones from Grand Bahama has also been selected to participate in Saturday’s WNBA Skills Challenge.
Jones, the starting centre for the Connecticut Sun, joins Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty and Courtney Vandersloot of the Chicago Sky as a list of eight players who will participate in the 2022 WNBA Skills Challenge as part of the weekend-long series of events at AT&T WNBA All-Star 2022.
The WNBA Skills Challenge and the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest will air live on ESPN at 3pm ET. Both events will take place inside McCormick Place in front of a special group of participants from the Nike Tournament of Champions and Nike Girls Nationals.
The WNBA Skills Challenge and MTN DEW 3-Point Contest are closed to the public but can be seen at a special viewing party hosted by DJ Shale outside McCormick Place within the grounds of WNBA Live presented by U.S. Bank.
Jones, the reigning Kia WNBA most valuable player for 2021, along with Ionescu, who on Wednesday tied a WNBA career record with her third triple-double, and six-time league assists leader Vandersloot, will compete in the WNBA Skills Challenge with guard Rhyne Howard of the Atlanta Dream, guards Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young of the Las Vegas Aces, forward NaLyssa Smith of the Indiana Fever and forward-centre Azurá Stevens of the Sky.
The Skills Challenge includes eight teams, each consisting of one WNBA player and one athlete from the Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) participating in the 2022 Nike Nationals. The teams will compete head-to-head in an obstacle course relay competition that tests dribbling, passing, agility and shooting skills.
On Sunday, Jones will play her fourth WNBA All-Star game as a member of “Team Stewart”, led by Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm) and Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) and will take on A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces) and her Team Wilson co-captain Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx).
The WNBA All-Star game will be played in Chicago at the Wintrust Arena at 1pm and will be carried live on ABC.
Wilson and Stewart were named All-Star captains after finishing atop the fan votes for the game. Fowles and Bird, two legends in their final WNBA seasons, join them for the game.
Jones was selected by Stewart to start alongside Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks) and Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces).
The remainder of the team includes: Kahleah Copper (Chicago Sky), Skylar Diggins-Smith ( Phoenix Mercury), Jewell Loyd (Storm), Emma Meesseman (Sky) Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings) and Alyssa Thomas (Sun).
Jones is leading the Sun in points per game (15.1) and rebounds per game (9.4). She is also third in the league in rebounding and second in second-chance points per game (3.4).
She was named the WNBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the week of May 30-June 5, 2022, where she averaged 19.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks per contest on the Sun’s 3-1 road trip out west against the Aces, Mercury and Storm.
In the 2021 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game, Jones led Team WNBA All-Stars to a 93-85 victory over Team USA, grabbing a team-high 14 rebounds, while also notching 18 points and four assists. She also finished second in the 2021 WNBA Three-Point contest, four points behind the Chicago Sky’s Courtney Vandersloot.