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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Looks like UConn's Saniya Chong has made Dallas Wings

When her senior season began, it wasn't even certain if Saniya Chong would have a regular role at UConn but suddenly it is looking like she has made the opening day roster of the WNBA's Dallas Wings. The team currently has 12 players on the roster which is the WNBA maximum. Barring any waiver-wire additions between now and Friday, Chong will be on the opening night roster.

The Wings have announced over the last couple of days that Erin Phillips and Tiffany Bias, guards combined for 179 points and 44 assists for Dallas a season ago, have been cut. The WNBA held its annual preseason conference call and with Dallas' Fred Williams one of the three coaches on the call, I asked him for his thoughts on Chong.

"You come out of a structure, a DNA of a championship organization at UConn and when you have that kind of player, she understands winning," Williams said. "She understands her role as a point guard who can distribute the basketball and set up her team. She has demonstrated in practice and also in games that she played in preseason to show great leadership. I look to utilize her a great deal this season and rely on her great basketball IQ."

The Final Four was in Dallas and Williams was seen at occasional UConn games over the last few seasons so I asked him when Chong was on his scouting radar.

"Ever since she was a freshman," Williams said. "We started way back when and followed her with the possibility to being there at a certain spot in the draft. I thought she has grown through the years and especially during the UConn streak, she got more minutes when the other point guard went into the pros."

Perhaps nobody can appreciate what Chong has done in the last seven months more than her former teammate and roommate Breanna Stewart. She was also on the call so of course I had her weigh in on the possibility of Chong making the cut with the Wings.

"She is my best friend and being with her for the past three years at Connecticut and rooming with her for two of those years, just to see the jump that she made in her senior year and took on a leadership role that nobody really knew if it was there or not but she took it and put herself in a great position in Dallas," Stewart said. "Hopefully she can just keep building opportunities for herself and taking advantage of them." 

In other WNBA news, the Connecticut Sun announced that it has claimed Jordan Hooper off waivers. What's interesting about this move is that the Dallas franchise (then in Tulsa) drafted Hooper in the second round of the 2014 WNBA Draft. That pick was acquired by trading Kayla Pedersen to Connecticut. Pedersen sat out last season but was signed by Connecticut in the offseason. With her overseas commitment dragging on and the Sun apparently liking their options at forward, she was cut without ever reporting to training camp. Now a roster spot is open and taken by the player she was traded for three years ago.

 I'm a little surprised that the Sun did not place a claim on former Temple guard Feyonda Fitzgerald but I guess they feel like either Kelly Faris or Jessica January will serve the role the guard at the end of the bench better than Fitzgerald.

There are some prominent names on the WNBA waiver wire today including the Sun waiving former All-Star guard Allison Hightower, Fitzgerald getting cut by Indiana as did former Penn State star Maggie Lucas.

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