Over the past four seasons, Brionna Jones has seen the Connecticut Sun inch closer and closer to its first WNBA Championship.
Its because of that growth that Jones decided to remain with the only WNBA team shes called home.
On Friday, the team announced that the 6-foot-3 forward has signed a multi-year contract.
Jones had been a restricted free agent. No details of the contract were released per team policy.
I think the culture that weve built in my four years that Ive been here, just seeing how weve grown from my first season to now, I think thats one of the reasons why I wanted to come back, Jones said during a Zoom call with reporters. I love this team, I love the organization and everything that we stand for. So, Im excited to be back and be a part of that family again.
Jones is the third player the Sun re-signed during the first week of free agency. Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas signed multi-year deals on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
This has been a huge, successful week for us, Sun general manager/head coach Curt Miller said. We set out with a goal in this offseason to re-sign those three. So to be able to announce Alyssa, Jasmine and now Bri this week, huge mission-accomplished in what were our three main goals in this offseason.
Jones is prepping for her fifth season in Connecticut. She was drafted eighth overall in 2017. Playing behind Jonquel Jones, she saw limited playing time in her first three seasons. She never averaged more than 9.0 minutes per game, and never started.
But Jonquel Jones decision to opt-out of the 2020 bubble season gave Brionna Jones her first crack at the starting line-up, and she made the most of that opportunity.
Jones started all 21 games she played and averaged career highs of 11.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals in 26.1 minutes per game. She was third on the team in all three categories. He previous bests were 3.5 points (2019), 2.2 rebounds (2019) and 0.4 steals (2017) a game.
Additionally, her 60.5 field goal percentage led the team and was fourth-best in the WNBA last year.
During Connecticuts playoff run to the deciding Game 5 of the semifinals, Jones started all seven games, averaging 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals.
The past three seasons were just about being ready when my number was called, Jones said. I think last season I got the chance to show what I can do for the team. Show what I can bring to the table. So I think being in the bubble and not having JJ, that was a key part of our team before, but I think just being able to step-up and show what I can do was a big part of the bubble for me.
As Alyssa Thomas recovers from surgery that repaired a torn Achilles tendon, the Sun will likely lean on Jones again, this time alongside Jonquel Jones. Add DeWanna Bonner into the mix and the Sun could be a match-up nightmare with three players 6-foot-3 or taller on the floor at once.
Im excited about the chess match, Miller said. Im excited about pivoting and playing differently. Im excited about the length. We will miss AT. Does that mean you cant have success, does that mean you dont pivot and play a different style? Certainly thats the challenge of the coaching staff, certainly thats the challenge of our team to buy-in.
Before the free agency signing period began, the Sun already had Bonner, Jonquel Jones, Kaila Charles and Briann January under contract, and Natisha Hiedeman and Beatrice Mompremier signed their qualifying offers on Jan. 8 and Jan. 11, respectively.
We now have under contract the nine players that we desired going into free agency to have under contract, Miller said. So, really, really excited. Obviously, the injury hurts us. But we have positioned ourselves with continuity and chemistry.
Miller said his goal for the rest of free agency is to build a competitive training camp roster. The team started that Monday when it signed Kamiah Smalls to a training camp contract.
Four players Essence Carson, Theresa Plaisance, Bria Holmes and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis remain unrestricted free agents.
For coverage of the Connecticut Sun and professional women's basketball, Hartford Athletic pro soccer team, as well as area high school and local youth sports, follow Adam Betz on Twitter: @AdBetz1, Facebook:Adam Betz - Sports Writer, and Instagram: @AdBetzJI.
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