Opportunity knocks for UConn's Chong
The last 26 UConn players taken in the WNBA Draft have appeared in at least one WNBA regular-season game. It helps that 18 of those players have been taken in the first round but there have been players like Tiffany Hayes and Charde Houston who have outplayed and outlasted players taken ahead of them. Now it is Saniya Chong's turn to try to make it at the WNBA level.
Chong was taken in the third round, pick No. 26 overall by Dallas and I'm not sure there could have been a better landing spot.
First of all, she will be playing for a coach in Fred Williams who coached Hayes in the latter stages of her rookie season and her entire second year in the league. After getting fired in Atlanta, Williams was hired by Tulsa. One of the training camp invitees in his first season with the Shock happened to be former UConn guard Lorin Dixon. Although Dixon didn't make the team, it showed that Williams is willing to take a chance on former UConn players.
Then there is the roster. Before a very busy draft night for Williams and the Dallas Wings, the guards on the roster of the former Tulsa Shock franchise were Skylar Diggins, Erin Phillips, Karima Christmas and Tiffany Bias. Dallas traded away leading scorer Odyssey Sims in a deal that allowed the Wings to take Allisha Gray with the fourth overall pick. Diggins and Christmas are the top two returning scorers so certainly you'd have to think they make the team. Phillips averaged only 14.6 minutes and 4.7 points per game while Bias averaged 2.9 points and 6.4 minutes in 10 games.
The rosters on the WNBA site aren't exactly maintained in a timely fashion but assuming the roster posted is accurate, there are 16 players on the Wings' roster at the current time meaning only one needs to be let go when all the players report following the end of their overseas seasons so seemingly Chong has a chance to get time to show what she is capable of doing. She won't be the only one as she was one of five players drafted by the Wings joining Gray, fellow South Carolina product Kaela Davis, Evelyn Akhator of Kentucky and Kansas State's Breanna Lewis.
Unfortunately, Dallas is not one of the teams taking part in the two-day preseason tournament held at Mohegan Sun Arena and for Connecticut fans to see Chong up close and in person, she would have to be on the team when Dallas plays at the Connecticut Sun twice in August.
Speaking of interesting training camp showdowns, I'm not sure what to make of the list of post players coming into Connecticut Sun camp.
Morgan Tuck and Jonquel Jones lead the list as they prepare for their second WNBA seasons. Former Sun forward Kayla Pedersen is back in the fold. Pedersen played for the Sun for three seasons before taking last season off. Then there are a bunch of newcomers led by Brionna Jones and Shayla Cooper, the Sun's top two picks in last night's draft. Danielle Adams played for San Antonio from 2011-15 and averaged 11.4 points in 155 career regular-season games. Reshanda Gray, who averaged 4.4 points playing in 45 regular-season games for Atlanta in the last two seasons, will join veteran Lynetta Kizer and former second-round pick Jennifer Hamson as post players in camp. Alyssa Thomas could be added to that list as well although you never really know if she is viewed as a post player or a wing.
There are currently 19 players on the roster and there can't be more than 15 in camp at any on time. Sun coach Curt Miller said last night that second-round pick Leticia Romero, a guard out of Florida State, won't be playing in the WNBA this summer due to her obligations with Spain's national team and Chiney Ogwumike is currently injured. I asked Miller what would be a preferred number of post players to make the roster and he gave me a rambling answer that really wasn't an answer. Obviously Tuck, Jonquel Jones, Brionna Jones and Kizer should make the roster. That would leave Adams, Cooper, Gray, Hamson and Pedersen fighting it out for one or two spots. Then there is Ogwumike's situation. The team could suspend her but that would mean she can't play for the entire season or use one of the 12 roster spots on her with the hope that her rehab from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon would allow her to play at some point this season. Other moves will need to be made earlier depending on when players with overseas commitments get to report to training camp.
The fun will start on April 24 for the first day of training camp with media day being held two days later.