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    Monday, May 29, 2023

    Jones ‘grateful’ to stay with Sun

    Brionna Jones (16) shoots over Bosnia and Herzegovina's Jonquel Jones, her former Connecticut Sun teammate, while playing the the 2022 Women’s World Cup on Sept. 27 in in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)
    Connecticut Sun center Brionna Jones reacts during the first half in Game 3 of the 2022 WNBA Finals against the Las Vegas Aces on Sept. 15 at Mohegan Sun Arena. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

    Brionna Jones gradually built herself into a WNBA All-Star by mastering moves around the rim and becoming one of the league’s top defensive posts.

    Lately, the Connecticut Sun center has been working on a new skill while playing overseas — shooting threes.

    “I think every year that I’ve been in Connecticut I’ve always wanted to get better at something,” Jones said during a Zoom press conference Wednesday. “I think shooting is the one thing that I can definitely improve on and I’ve been shooting more overseas.

    “Just being able to shoot more threes and expand my game, I’m excited about that.”

    It’s a safe bet that Jones won’t be putting up threes as frequently as bigs like Candace Parker or Jonquel Jones.

    The Sun, however, expect Brionna Jones to be one of their cornerstones, and have showed their faith in her this WNBA offseason. Team management flew to the Czech Republic last month to meet with her while she played in Prague, designated her as their core player to give them exclusive free agent negotiating rights and re-signed her last week.

    “We see her as franchise player,” first-year Sun head coach Stephanie White said. “She’s a player who has always gotten better. She’s a player who’s committed to all aspects of the game.

    “You don’t want to lose a player who brings what she brings every single day.”

    The 6-foot-3 Jones averaged 25.1 minutes, 13.8 points and 5.1 rebounds off the bench last season and helped Connecticut reach the WNBA Finals for the fourth time. She was named the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year last season after earning the 2021 WNBA Most Improved Player honor.

    Jones will start this season after the departure of Jonquel Jones. The 2021 WNBA MVP was traded to the New York Liberty last month at her request.

    “I’m grateful and thankful to be coming back to Connecticut,” Jones said. “The way they cored me from the jump, just having that belief in me before the free agency (signing period) started and (that) they wanted me to come back and be part of this, this new era, I guess you could say in Connecticut. … that showed me that they wanted me to be part of this.”

    Jones re-signed for one year, which raised the question why she did that rather than signing a multi-year deal.

    “I’m just looking to see how the season goes,” Jones said. “I’m committed to Connecticut and I’m excited for the way the season is going to go. I just think the one-year (deal) was the right move for me now.”

    Darius Taylor, the Sun’s first-year general manager said, “We understand the one-year deal. We still have some (salary) cap things to work out going forward, and so it just puts us in a position to be able to re-sign her (for one year) and balance out our cap a little better. So I don’t really have a concern about that.”

    Connecticut’s personnel dictated that it move from the fast-paced, high-scoring system it played from 2016-19 to a more deliberate style predicated on defense and getting the ball inside to its posts.

    White wants the Sun to get back to playing with pace and shooting more from the outside.

    “One of the questions that I asked Bri when we were over in Prague was, ‘Hey, how do you feel about shooting threes because if you can do it and you feel comfortable with it, we’re going to want you to do that’,” White said. “That’s sort of that next step for her and just putting it on her radar. I think that she has proven that there's no doubt that she's going to continue to work on her game.”


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