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    CT Sun
    Wednesday, May 31, 2023

    Once again, Sun will play waiting game at WNBA Draft

    In this August 26, 2021, file photo, Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller, fight, argues with official Amy Bonner during a game against the Los Angeles Sparks at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Professional coaches and general managers obsessively prepare for a draft, going over every situation they can think of to keep from being caught off guard when they’re on the clock.

    Curt Miller, the head coach and general manager of the Connecticut Sun, has furiously prepped for Monday’s WNBA Draft, arguably a futile task given the team picks last in all three rounds.

    “I think that’s the fun part of preparing, trying to play out all scenarios and know that we probably won’t get any of the right scenarios when it’s all said and done,” Miller said. “Like anything with basketball, you have to enjoy the journey. You have to enjoy the process, so we’re having a bunch of fun trying to prepare.

    “We really enjoyed this collegiate season, evaluating and watching as many collegiate games as we did. So we’re going to try to have fun with it even though, at times, there’s anxiety around it.”

    The draft starts at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN. The Sun pick 12th, 24th and 36th. They haven’t had a first-round pick since 2019 because they traded their previous three to the Phoenix Mercury on Feb. 11, 2020 in exchange for forward-guard DeWanna Bonner.

    Connecticut is looking for depth because it has six players who could start. It four starters back from last year’s team — reigning WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones (forward), 2021 WNBA Most Improved Player Brionna Jones (center), guard Jasmine Thomas and Bonner.

    Alyssa Thomas (forward) missed all but the final seven games last year after surgery on her Achilles but started the previous six seasons.

    Guard Courtney Williams also returns to the Sun after being traded at her request to the Atlanta Dream during the 2020 offseason. The free agent started three seasons for Connecticut, including its 2019 team that played in the WNBA Finals.

    Whoever the Sun draft will have to impress right away at training camp because they have so few roster spots available. Teams can carry up to 12 players but that’s tough to do because so much of their salary cap goes to their top players. It’s for that reason that Connecticut rostered 11 last season, including Thomas while she was injured.

    The Sun return their five reserves from last year’s team — wings Kaila Charles and DiJonai Carrington, guard Natisha Hiedeman and forwards Beatrice Mompremier and Stephanie Jones. They also signed Yvonne Anderson, Taja Cole and Joyner Holmes to training camp contracts.

    “We’re trying, as always, to create as competitive a training camp as possible,” Miller said. “Create that camp (so) that people are fighting onto the roster. Ultimately, what we always hope that to do is to improve our depth off the bench and looking for spark.”

    Miller said that the top half of the draft should be dominated by post players although Kentucky guard Rhyne Howard, a two-time Women's Basketball Coaches Association All-American, figures to be the top player drafted.

    UConn guard Christyn Williams could be drafted in the first round. Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com projected the Sun to pick her that round in her April 6 mock draft.

    “By the time you get to the middle of the first round, the unpredictability, it’s certainly going to be interesting to watch it play out,” Miller said.

    The Sun start training camp on Easter Sunday (April 17) and, as usual, several players under contract may arrive late due to overseas commitments (Carrington, Charles, Hiedeman and Williams will arrive on time). Connecticut opens the regular season at the New York Liberty on Saturday, May 7.


    In this Sept. 30, 201, file photo, Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner shoots over Chicago Sky defenders Candace Parker (3) and Diamond DeShields in a WNBA playoff game at Mohegan Sun Arena. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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