It was clear the Connecticut Sun had a bright future heading into WNBA Draft 2016 as owners of two of the top four picks. But when Draft Night arrived, their plans for acquiring young talent didn’t stop there.
The Sun used those first two picks to select Morgan Tuck and Rachel Banham, who alone would have been quite the haul on Draft Night. Then, just before the start of the second round, came the trade.
It cost Connecticut Chelsea Gray, their first-round pick next year, and the 15th and 23rd picks this year, but they found their newest starlet: Jonquel Jones, who had originally been picked sixth overall by the Los Angeles Sparks.
Now, in addition to Alex Bentley, the reigning Most Improved Player in Kelsey Bone, and a returning Chiney Ogwumike, the Sun will boast three extremely talented rookies.
There’s no wonder Ogwumike was so excited after the draft.
“Seattle feels great, but I feel like we stole the draft,” the 2014 Rookie of the Year said.
“In Rachel Banham, we got the girl who gets buckets. In Jonquel Jones we got the best sleeper in the draft. And then in Morgan Tuck we got a girl in our backyard who will really galvanize our fans, but then is also just a solid player.”
Ogwumike isn’t the only one excited about how the Draft played out. Tuck, the former UConn star, is excited about the prospects of staying in the state of Connecticut.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “There’s gonna be a lot of fan support. Pretty much the same fans that go to UConn games are gonna be coming to the Sun games. I think it’s gonna be a great fit for me, and I can’t wait to get started.”
When she does get started, which will be quite soon with preseason games opening in just a few weeks, Tuck will be around a familiar face now that the Sun have dealt for Jones.
“Morgan, I knew her from high school,” Jones told WNBA.com after learning about the trade. “She’s a great person. I told her how wonderful she is before, when I got drafted to LA. I just told her we need to stay in touch because I love her personality so much, I just love the type of person she is. So I guess we’ll be keeping in touch now!”
Jones, though, wasn’t the only one to praise Tuck. Banham, the Minnesota Mamba, added, “I really like her. I can tell she’s very disciplined and focused. She came from UConn, so she’s champion. I know that she’s gonna give a lot to our team.”
Of course, Banham herself will be giving a lot to the team as well. There’s a reason they call her the Minnesota Mamba: She gets buckets. Her scoring exploits in college — including a 60-ball she dropped on Northwestern, tying the NCAA single-game scoring record — were so prolific that she even got a shoutout from Kobe himself. The pair later met before a Lakers game, and as Banham said, “He’s done, and I’m gonna have to carry on the Mamba mentality.”
That’s a high standard to live up to, but Banham is ready to give it her all, and so are the Sun. They may be young, but there’s plenty of talent in town, and their run of three straight seasons in last place in the East has a good chance of coming to an end.
Just ask Ogwumike:
“I really see no weaknesses. Now we just need to develop and earn these wins.”