Youth served at Sun

Maryland's Alyssa Thomas shoots over North Carolina's Diamond DeShields during a March 7 game in Greensboro, N.C. Thomas, the fourth overall pick in Monday's WNBA Draft, was traded to the Connecticut Sun during the draft as part of a trade that sent Tina Charles to the New York Liberty.

Mohegan — Katie Douglas is an anomaly on the Connecticut Sun roster — she's the only player over 27.

"I know," said Douglas, 34 years young, during Monday's WNBA Draft. "I was like, 'Man, I just don't know who's close to my age.' I feel like I have a young spirit about myself, so I'm ready to be the den mother. I don't know that I want them calling me 'grandma' or anything like that because I like to think that I can still run some circles around these little youngsters."

Eight of Connecticut's 15 players are newbies.

The average age of the team — 24.7.

Wow, has the Sun ever changed in a little over a year.

"Its good, though," coach Anne Donovan said. "As long as everybody is high energy and positive, I get excited about that."

There will be Sun fans who are upset that the team had to trade away Tina Charles and Kara Lawson, who have been the franchise's best two players over the past four seasons.

Forward Kelsey Griffin and guards Kelly Faris, Kalana Greene, Allison Hightower and Renee Montgomery will return for Connecticut. Wing Danielle McCray will be back after missing last season to an Achilles injury.

Douglas, who missed most of last season to injury and had offseason back surgery, is back for her second trip with the franchise. A healthy Douglas is one of the game's top shooters and will be a leader, a tutor, and an upbeat addition to the locker room.

Guard Alex Bentley was acquired from the Washington Mystics for Lawson. She was a member of the 2013 All-Rookie team with a defensive prowess.

Rookie forwards Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford) and Alyssa Thomas (Maryland) were the first and fourth picks, respectively, in Monday's draft. Ogwumike was this season's Wooden Award winner, a two-time Associated Press first-team pick, and one of three finalists for the WBCA's 2014 Defensive Player of the Year honor.

Thomas was an AP first-team selection this past season and a three-time ACC Player of the Year. Both are three-time Women's Basketball Coaches Association honorees, too.

Second-year post Kelsey Bone, acquired in the Charles trade with New York, joined Bentley on the All-Rookie team.

Point guard Chelsea Gray (Duke) was drafted 11th overall Monday. She'll miss the season due to dislocating her knee in February. She was co-ACC Player of the Year and an AP second-team pick as a junior. Donovan said she would've been a top five pick if healthy.

Yes, Connecticut is young with many unproven players. Perimeter shooting could be an issue. It should be a hot mess early as it'll have just 19 days of training camp before opening the season at home against, appropriately enough, Charles and New York on May 16.

The Sun's potential is intriguing, though. The roster looks better. It's certainly younger. They'll be improved defensively and should be better on the boards.

"I think they're building the beginning of something," ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said. "I know they'd never say they were rebuilding, but I think the fans are going to like what they see from the team. It might not be in the win-loss column (this season), but they'll like what they see on the court.

"They've got some really nice pieces (in the draft). I think next year is the year where they'll hope it comes together because they won't get Gray until next year, and they'll get two first-round picks. And they have Allison Hightower, who's a young, energetic player. Renee Montgomery is returning. I think people are going to have to be patient with them, but I would think (management) is very excited about the possibilities of what they can do here."

n.griffen@theday.com

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