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Sun waive four players, cut roster down to 11

It sounds crazy that the Connecticut Sun finalized their roster on Monday before they even opened training camp, but such is life during a worldwide pandemic.

Connecticut cut its roster down to 11 players, one day before Tuesday's WNBA deadline. It kept rookie Kaila Charles and waived Megan Huff, Jacki Gemelos, Jazmon Gwathmey and rookie Juicy Landrum.

"Making cuts is never easy," Sun general manager and head coach Curt Miller said. "You build relationships with players (at camp). ... This is difficult because they never had a chance to fight it out."

Teams had to make cuts by Tuesday so that players could start being paid on June 1.

Training camps normally begin in April, but the league announced last month that it was suspending the start of its 24th season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The regular season was scheduled to start on Friday, May 15. Connecticut was scheduled to open at home the next day against the New York Liberty.

There's no timetable for the league to resume.

Connecticut kept 11 players instead of the maximum 12 allowed due to the salary cap. It could, however, add a 12th player once the season begins and salaries start to be prorated.

The Sun have three starters back who have been part of their core the past four seasons — post Jonquel Jones, forward Alyssa Thomas and point guard Jasmine Thomas. They're joined by guards Bria Holmes and Natisha Hiedeman, and posts Brionna Jones and Theresa Plaisance, all of who were reserves last season.

Connecticut's roster is rounded out by newcomers DeWanna Bonner (forward-guard), one of the top free agents this offseason, guard Briann January, former UConn standout Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Charles.

Guards Gemelos and Gwathmey both had WNBA experience and were signed to training camp contracts. Huff, a forward, was drafted by New York in the third round last year but cut before the start of the season.

The Sun drafted Landrum, a guard from Baylor, with the second-to-last pick (35th, third round) in April. They waived French forward Valériane Ayayi on March 28.

"The disappointment, obviously, was having to cut down the roster without an opportunity for them to compete against each other," Miller said. "We felt like we had put together a terrific training camp roster to fight for those last spots or spot on the roster. We had to make an educated guess on what gave us the most versatility, knowing that we were going to start the season with 11 players."

Connecticut drafted Charles 23rd overall (second round) in April never thinking that she'd be available because she was among the top 10 players on their board. The 6-foot-1 guard from Maryland started in all 135 games that she played over four seasons for the Terrapins, tying the career record set by Alyssa Thomas. She shot 50 percent from the floor during her collegiate career and averaged 14.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals over that time. She also earned All-Big Ten first-team honors three times (2018-20).

n.griffen@theday.com

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