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Landrum getting ready for life with Sun

The adjustment from college to the pros is difficult for any athlete in any sport.

Rookies have to forge bonds with their new teammates. The players are bigger, stronger and faster in the pros. They have to adjust to sometimes playing multiple road games in a short period of time.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown extra challenges to the WNBA’s class of 2020 such as Connecticut Sun rookie Juicy Landrum — staying in shape and keeping their skills sharp during stay-at-home orders.

“I’m trying my best to stay in shape,” Landrum said during Monday’s conference call with the media. “(You) can’t even go outside and shoot a basketball, there’s no rims (on the backboards at the park), so it’s kind of hard. I do my best to do a little jogging, a little bodyweight stuff. It’s hard when you want to go outside and dribble the ball or shoot.”

The Sun drafted Landrum with the 35th overall and final pick (third round) of last Friday’s WNBA Draft. The 5-foot-8 guard from Waco, Texas, stayed home and played at Baylor, helping the Bears win the 2019 national championship.

Landrum started in all 67 games she played over the past two seasons. She averaged 10.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists her senior year. She was also was a career 40.3 percent 3-point shooter (170 of 422) and made an NCAA record 14 3-pointers (on 23 attempts) in an 111-43 rout of Arkansas State on Dec. 18, 2019.

Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller said after the draft that Landrum was on the “short list” of players they’d considering taking in the second round with their first pick in the draft. Connecticut passed on her when Maryland guard Kaila Charles, who Miller considered to be one of the top 10 players in the draft, dropped to them in that round. Miller never expected Landrum to be available in the third round.

“She doesn’t have the overall make or volume (of 3-pointers) as some of the great shooters in the country, but clearly is one of the great shooters out there,” Miller said. “When you talk to the Baylor people, they’ll equally talk about her defensive ability and her ability to get stops and her dedication to that end of the floor. … (She’s another) steal, we believe.”

Landrum said that she and Miller had a short phone conversation the week of the draft but was nonetheless overwhelmed when she learned she was drafted.

“I invited a few friends and had a few family members over at my house (on draft night),” Landrum said. “My mom actually saw my name on the TV before I did and she jumped and gave me a hug. And then, just the excitement, I started crying. My dad hugged me and told me, ‘this all paid off. I’m so proud of you.’

“That day was one of the most exciting days of my life.”

Connecticut is unfamiliar territory for Landrum having played in Waco. She was in the state early in the year when Baylor beat UConn 74-58 on Jan. 9. She missed the only two shots she took over 28 minutes but, as a guard, had eight rebounds.

Landrum said a few of her new Sun teammates, including Jasmine Thomas and DeWanna Bonner, have already reached out to her via text.

“They said they can’t wait to meet me, so that was kind of special,” Landrum said.

n.griffen@theday.com

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