ATLANTA – The Atlanta Dream have acquired guard Courtney Williams, one of the most dynamic young players in the WNBA, and a 2020 second round pick in a three-team trade, the organization announced Wednesday.
The Dream sent forwards Jessica Breland and Nia Coffey to the Phoenix Mercury, who in return sent the No. 17 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft to the Dream. The Mercury will also send veteran guard Briann January and a 2021 second round pick to the Connecticut Sun. Williams will come to Atlanta from the Sun to complete the deal.
“Today is an exciting day for the Atlanta Dream,” Head Coach Nicki Collen said. “The addition of Courtney Williams brings us a dynamic scorer who thrives in the big moment. Courtney is arguably the best mid-range scorer in the WNBA but has also become a very efficient 3-point shooter which will keep defenses honest. While one of the smaller players in the league, she attacks the boards at both ends of the floor fearlessly and effectively.”
Drafted No. 8 overall in the 2016 WNBA Draft by the Mercury out of South Florida, Williams has developed into one of the most exciting guards in the league after being moved to the Sun midway through her rookie season. She averaged 13.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists while starting all 34 games for the WNBA Runner-up Sun in 2019.
Not one to shy away from the big moment, Williams upped her averages to 17.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists during the 2019 Playoffs. She scored at least 15 points in seven of eight postseason games.
“What fans will love the most about Courtney is the joy and passion they will see every time she steps out on the court,” Collen said. “I am excited to welcome Courtney and the entire Williams family to the Dream.”
While at South Florida, Williams recorded the top two single-season scoring campaigns and finished with 2,304 points over her four-year career. She averaged an impressive 22.4 points per game as a senior on her way to being the highest drafted player in USF history.
“Our off-season focus was to re-energize our offense with shooters and to establish a tradition of winning,” Dream President & General Manager Chris Sienko said. “The addition of Courtney is an amazing opportunity to do just that. Courtney is competitive, passionate and a rising super-star in this league. With our current roster and our free agency additions, we are excited about our future.”
With the addition of the Mercury’s second-round selection, the Dream will own the No. 4, No. 17, No. 25 and No. 27 picks in the 2020 WNBA Draft.
Williams will join an updated Dream roster that includes newcomers Kalani Brown, Glory Johnson, Alexis Jones and Shekinna Stricklen.
Breland, who helped lead the Dream to the 2018 WNBA Semifinals, averaged 7.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks over 67 games in an Atlanta uniform.
Coffey, who joined the Dream prior to the 2019 season, finished her one season in Atlanta averaging 5.0 points and 2.8 rebounds over 28 games.
“We are forever grateful to Jessica for helping us define a new culture in Atlanta,” Sienko said. “We also appreciate all of Nia’s contributions to the Dream this past season.”
The Connecticut Sun announced today that the team has added WNBA All-Star guard Briann January as a part of a three-team trade. In addition, Connecticut receives a 2021 2nd Round Draft Pick from the Phoenix Mercury. As a part of the deal, the Sun send Courtney Williams to the Atlanta Dream.
January, who was drafted 6th overall in 2009 by the Indiana Fever, spent nine seasons in Indianapolis before being traded to Phoenix in 2018. The Arizona State alum boasts a long list of accomplishments from her decorated career. In addition to winning a WNBA Championship with the Fever in 2012, she played key roles on two other trips to the WNBA Finals (2009, 2015) for the Fever. Named an All-Star in the 2014 campaign, January is known as one of the most elite defenders in the history of the WNBA and for her efforts, has been named to WNBA All-Defensive Teams six times. The 5’8 guard has recorded 330 steals in her career.
Offensively, January brings additional play-making and three-point shooting to the Sun. The combo guard has led the WNBA in three-point shooting percentage twice in her career (2015, 2018), one of only four to ever do so in the history of the WNBA. She has totaled 2,683 points and 1,122 assists. She remains second on Indiana’s all-time list in dimes with 909.
“We are thrilled to add combo guard Briann January to our talented roster. She is a veteran leader, WNBA Champion, WNBA All-Star, premiere defensive stopper, and an elite three-point shooter,” said Sun General Manager and Head Coach Curt Miller. “Her versatility will allow us to be really creative on the offensive side of the ball while her consistent defensive toughness adds to our outstanding defenders.”
“We realize Courtney was a fan-favorite and we wish her the best in Atlanta. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts and all the loyalty and support we’ve shown Courtney over the last four seasons, it became clear she no longer wanted to return to Connecticut,” Miller added. “I will look back fondly on the memories we created together, but my focus as always is with the players that have a burning desire to help the Connecticut Sun hang the franchise’s first championship banner. I can’t wait to get back on the court with this team.”
“I’m extremely excited to be joining this team and reuniting with DeWanna,” January said. “The Connecticut Sun have a talented roster. I look forward to contributing on both ends of the floor and doing whatever I can to bring this franchise and the Sun fans their first championship.”
The Mercury’s ambitious roster overhaul this offseason to add youth, athleticism and positional versatility continued today, acquiring former All-Star Jessica Breland and young wing Nia Coffey via a three-team trade with the Atlanta Dream and Connecticut Sun. As part of the deal, Phoenix sent Briann January and the team’s 2021 second-round pick to Connecticut, while the Mercury’s 2020 second-round pick (17th overall) was sent to Atlanta.
“We’re excited to add two highly skilled, high character players in Jessica and Nia,” said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman. We know they will make individual contributions this year, but we are even more excited about what their addition means for our overall roster. Adding Jessica, one of the league’s best rebounders, to our frontcourt, which already includes the league’s best center, Brittney Griner, and All-Rookie Team selection Brianna Turner is big for us. Adding a player like Nia, who can play multiple positions and shot 38 percent from three last year, after already adding Skylar Diggins-Smith and Bria Hartley, made this deal very appealing.”
– GM Jim Pitman
Pitman added: “On behalf of the entire organization, I want to thank Briann January for giving everything she had each day for the Phoenix Mercury. Playing whatever role her coaches asked, she was a true professional every step of the way and we wish her the best as she moves forward in her career.”
A 2014 WNBA All-Star for the game hosted by the Mercury, Breland is an eight-year veteran with career averages of 7.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 243 games. The 6-2 forward is one of only seven current WNBA players with at least 1,000 career points, 1,000 rebounds and 300 blocks (Sylvia Fowles, Brittney Griner, Candace Parker, Tina Charles, Candice Dupree, Elena Delle Donne) and is no stranger to the postseason. In 20 career playoff games, Breland owns averages of 6.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. She was a member of Chicago’s 2014 WNBA Finals team that finished runner-up to the Mercury, and reached the WNBA Semifinals in 2016 with the Sky and 2018 with Atlanta.
Breland is coming off a 2019 season in which she started in all 33 games she played in for the Dream, averaging 7.5 points, a team-high 7.3 rebounds and shooting a career-best 87.9 percent from the free throw line. She posted a team-high four double-doubles on the year, led the team in rebounding 13 times, notching 10+ rebounds in seven games and eight or more in 14 of them. Her 12.5-rebound average per 40 minutes was fifth-best in the WNBA.
Originally the 13th overall pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft by Minnesota, Breland was a standout at North Carolina. There, she played in 140 career games for the Tar Heels, averaging 10.8 points and 6.7 rebounds during her collegiate career. After missing the 2009-10 season to recover from receiving treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Breland went on to lead the ACC in double-doubles with 16 and became just the third player in program history to record at least 100 blocks in a single season.
Coffey is a 6-1 forward who can play wing or post positions. Entering her fourth WNBA season, Coffey was the fifth overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft by San Antonio, a pick acquired by the Stars from the Mercury in the trade for Danielle Robinson. After appearing in 27 games her rookie season, Coffey averaged a career-best 5.3 points and 2.4 rebounds for the Aces in 2018 following the franchise’s move to Las Vegas. The Minnesota native has played in 83 career games during her three WNBA seasons, with averages of 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. In her most recent season, Coffey averaged 5.0 points and a career-best 2.8 rebounds in 28 games for the Dream, shooting 37.9 percent from three-point range.
Prior to the WNBA, Coffey was a standout at Northwestern where she finished her career as the program’s all-time leader in rebounds and free throws made, and ranked second in career points and blocks. She became the fifth player in Big Ten women’s basketball history with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career and was a First Team All-Big Ten selection in each of her four seasons.