Carry On, Wayward Sun: Connecticut’s Entire Roster Goes East

The Connecticut Sun enjoyed a season of success in 2021, despite being ousted in the semifinals by the eventual champions, the Chicago Sky. On their way to a 26-6 record, Connecticut rattled off 14 straight wins, playing smothering defense at a suffocating pace. The close-knit roster found success in its continuity, absorbing the (mostly) lost season from Alyssa Thomas, who returned miraculously from an Achilles injury at the tail end of the season. 

Now, with the WNBA’s 25th season officially in the books, all 11 players on the 2021 Connecticut roster head east to play overseas. Here, paired with a map from our talented editor, Danny Goodman, we’ll break down where each member of the Sun will call home for their upcoming winter season.

 

 

Alyssa Thomas: USK Praha (Czech Republic) 

This past January, AT was playing for USK Praha when she tore her Achilles. After making a miraculous recovery to return for Connecticut’s stretch run, she’s opting back into overseas play. She’s again joined by her Sun teammate, Brionna Jones. In 10 games with the Czech team last winter, Thomas put up 15.1 points per game (PPG), 9.7 rebounds per game (RPG), 7.5 assists per game (APG), and 4.3 steals per game (SPG) on 57 percent shooting.

 

 

AT has already reported, as shown in the team Instagram story on October 19 (posted above). USK Praha has played eight games so far, and will toggle between Euroleague (2-2) and the Czech Republic league (4-0) throughout the season. In three appearances so far, Thomas has averages of 14.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 4.3 APG, and 4.7 SPG.

 

Beatrice Mompremier: UNI Győr (Hungary) 

Beatrice Mompremier is scheduled to return to the Hungarian team, UNI Győr, where she put up averages of 17 PPG and 11.7 RPG last season on 62.4 percent shooting. In her sophomore year in the W, Mompremier again played limited minutes, though she appeared in all 32 of the Sun’s regular season games. She converted just 49.1 percent of her shots for Connecticut this season, up 6.5 percent from her rookie season, and will look to continue to build on that efficiency this offseason.

Mompremier was scheduled to play alongside Atlanta Dream All-Rookie guard Aari McDonald, but last week, McDonald returned to the United States for the balance of the offseason.

To this point, Mompremier has played in three games, a pair of losses in the Hungarian league (where UNI Győr is 3-3) and Eurocup (where UNI Győr is 0-3). In her limited action, she’s averaging 19.3 PPG and 13.0 RPG.

 

Briann January: Sopron (Hungary) 

Another WNBA All-Defensive season for Bri January was marred by a heartbreaking finish: a missed breakaway layup in Game 3 of the semifinals, compounded by an injury that prevented her from avenging the error in Chicago’s clinching game. According to Her Hoop Stats, the 34-year-old perimeter defender is an unrestricted free agent, but is still a capable 3-and-D veteran.

At Sopron, January will join fellow WNBA players Gabby Williams (Los Angeles Sparks) and Bernadett Határ. Last year for Sopron, January averaged 10.0 PPG, while putting up ultra-efficient 53.1/51.3/90.2 splits. She has yet to join the team, which is 9-1 across Euroleague and the Hungarian league.

 

Brionna Jones: USK Praha (Czech Republic)

As mentioned above, Bri Jones and Alyssa Thomas are teammates at USK Praha once again. In the 2020-2021 season, Breezy put up averages of 20.3 PPG and 7.3 RPG on 69.9 percent from the floor. She carried that success into the WNBA, where she made her first All-Star appearance enroute to being named the league’s Most Improved Player. Like AT, Jones has played in two games so far, one in EuroLeague, one in the Czech league. It’s a small sample, but Brionna Jones is averaging 21.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.3 SPG, and 1.0 blocks per game (BPG). She even nailed a three-pointer! (Jones is just one-of-five from long range in her five-year WNBA career.)

 

DeWanna Bonner: Çukurova (Turkey) 

Back in August, it was reported that DeWanna Bonner would be joining Ç.B.K Mersin Yenişehir Belediyesi, also known as Çukurova Basket. This roster is stacked with WNBA talent. Bonner will be playing alongside Chelsea Gray, Tiffany Hayes, Kristine Anigwe, Yvonne Turner, Shavonte Zellous, and Temi Fagbenle. Though Bonner and Gray have not played yet, Çukurova has won their first five games across the Eurocup and Turkish leagues, led by the scoring of Hayes and Zellous.

 

DiJonai Carrington: Elizur Tel Aviv (Israel)

This is the franchise’s first year in the women’s basketball Premier League, and DiJonai Carrington was their first signing back in July. There are currently just six players listed on the roster: four Israeli women, Carrington, and the Washington Mystics’ Kiara Leslie (who scored 22 points and secured 11 boards in their opening loss). An additional four members have been added and labeled as the junior team, though it appears they might be filling out the bench.

Carrington got a late start in taking the court, self-reporting that she’s not yet ready for her next basketball season. She debuted on October 25, in the team’s second game, helping Elizur secure its first victory, 79-76. She put up 19 points, pulled down 10 boards, and handed out five helpers.

 

Jasmine Thomas: Fenerbahçe (Turkey) 

JT returns to Fenerbahçe, which is again full of WNBA players: she joins Kayla McBride (Minnesota Lynx), Kiah Stokes (Las Vegas Aces), Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta Dream), and Amanda Zahui B (Los Angeles). The team is headlined by the talented Alina Iagupova, and they should put together a strong season. Fenerbahçe is off to a slow start at this point, though. They’ve won both of their Turkish league contests (averaging 85.5 PPG), but just two of four in EuroLeague (where they’ve averaged just 71.5 PPG). Thomas has only played in one game so far, a victory in the Turkish league. She scored eight points on three-of-eight shooting, while pulling down five boards and handing out a single assist. Iagupova and McBride have been holding it down so far, but Fenerbahçe will need more production from the frontcourt if they’re to find season-long success.

 

See Also

Jonquel Jones: UMMC Ekaterinburg (Russia) 

Days after wrapping her 2021 WNBA MVP campaign, JJ boarded a plane for Russia. She’s again signed up to play with UMMC, the superteam of international women’s basketball. Though Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm, Achilles injury recovery) is not joining the squad this year, and both Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley (Chicago Sky) have yet to report, still celebrating last week’s championship, UMMC is still a powerhouse. Emma Meesseman (Washington Mystics) and Maria Vadeeva (Los Angeles Sparks) join Jones to headline UMMC, which has started off 3-0 in both the Russian league and EuroLeague. They did, however, fall to Valencia in the European Super Cup. New York’s Bec Allen led the way for the Spanish upset with 18 points (and four threes), and JJ’s 20 points in defeat weren’t enough. Across three games in the Russian and Euroleague, Jones is averaging 16.3 PPG and 9.0 RPG on 57.1 percent shooting.

There’s both a physical and mental toll to nonstop hoops, especially when you factor in that so many W players travel around the world to compete. Recently, Jones made her feelings known about the toll these seasons take, each cycling directly into the next, referring to the neverending schedule as a “hamster wheel.” 

 

 

Kaila Charles: Dynamo Novosibirsk (Russia) 

Last winter, Kaila Charles played for Petah Tikva in Israel, where she put up averages of 17.8 PPG and 10.8 RPG. This year, she’s bringing her talent to Russia, where she’ll team up with Kayla Alexander, who last played with the Minnesota Lynx in 2020. Charles has not yet reported, and the team is 2-2 in her absence. According to Charles’ Instagram story on Monday, October 25, her travel to Russia was imminent.

 

Natisha Hiedeman: Nadezhda Orenburg (Russia) 

Natisha Hiedeman will join Jones and Charles in Russia’s PBL. Nadezhda is off to a 1-2 start in that league, though they’ve won each of their first two Eurocup games. She’s the sole American on the roster; Atlanta’s Monique Billings played with Nadezhda last year, but joined the Townsville Fire in Australia’s WNBL this year. Thus far, through three games total, Connecticut’s sixth woman is averaging 14.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 3.3 APG.

 

Stephanie Jones: Gorzów (Poland) 

Steph Jones is one of five—five!—Ticha Penicheiro clients on Gorzów’s roster. Stella Johnson, who played six games with the Mystics this past season, is another WNBA player paired with Jones, and Anna Makurat played at UConn for two seasons before deciding to pursue a pro career in Poland. To this point, Gorzów is 2-2 in the Polish EBLK league and 1-2 in Eurocup play. Jones has played in four games total, two apiece. In the Polish league, she’s put up 9.3 PPG and 4.3 RPG on 58.3 percent shooting; in her Eurocup appearances, she’s averaging just 6.0 PPG, but adding 9.5 RPG.

With all 11 Connecticut Sun players in action, spanning over 3,800 miles of terrain, this “offseason” is anything but. You can keep up with much of the action on the EuroLeague Women 2021-2022 YouTube page, which streams games live. And, of course, keep an eye on Winsidr: we’ve got a full overseas tracker coming your way soon!

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