Former women’s basketball standout opts out of WNBA season

Jonquel Jones, a former forward for the women’s basketball squad and center for the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, will sit out the 2020 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to a release Monday.

The WNBA season was set to kick off in May, but the pandemic stalled competition until July. Jones said in the release that she will use her time off the court to “focus on personal, social and familial growth,” and she expects to be back on the floor for the 2021 season.

“This was one of the toughest decisions I’ve made, but the resurgence and unknown aspects of COVID -19 have raised serious health concerns that I do not feel comfortable competing in,” Jones said. “I’d like to thank the Connecticut Sun organization, my teammates and fans for their unwavering support and understanding.”

After a two-month hiatus, the WNBA announced plans for a 22-game regular season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The academy would serve as the single site for “training camp, games and housing” for all 12 teams, and fans would be absent, the release states.

Jones was a staple for the Sun during the 2019 season and in their push for the WNBA Championship. She started all 34 games, averaging 14.6 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game in 28.8 minutes per game throughout the season. During the squad’s playoff push, Jones averaged a double-double with 17.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.

She ranked among the Sun’s top three performers in field goal percentage, free throw percentage, points, rebounds and blocks, leading the team in the three latter stats for the 2019 season. She was also named an All Star and selected to the All-WNBA Second Team.

Sun general manager and head coach Curt Miller said in the release that the organization will “fully support” Jones’ decision to sit out the 2020 season.

“We recognize the amount of unique challenges, sacrifices and unknowns this season presents, and from the top down, there is an unwavering commitment to support each player’s respective decision,” Miller said in the release.

In her three seasons at GW, Jones was the only player in the Atlantic 10 to average a double-double – a feat she achieved each year with the program. She led the nation in rebounding her senior season (14.6 boards per game) en route to third place in GW’s record books for career rebounds (961).

Jones helped her team to two straight A-10 Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances, averaging 15.7 points, 13.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in her career. She was the first GW player selected in the first round of the WNBA draft.

Atlanta Dream guard Renee Montgomery opted to sit out the 2020 season to focus on social justice reform. WNBA players have until Thursday to notify teams about whether they will play, ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel reported.

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