Sun

Husky Legend Moriah Jefferson Makes Her Way Home

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As one Husky leaves, another finds its way home.

On December 13th, former UConn star Tiffany Hayes announced her retirement from the WNBA, effectively ending her tenure with the Connecticut Sun. Nearly two months later, on February 3rd, the Sun announced the signing of Husky legend Moriah Jefferson.

Jefferson, the second pick in the 2016 WNBA draft, won four national championships playing for Geno Auriemma. She was a two-time All-American and twice the recipient of the Nancy Lieberman Award, an honor bestowed upon the nation’s best point guard.

The 29-year-old has yet to find a permanent home in the WNBA, however. Connecticut is the fifth team she’s signed with, the fourth in the past three seasons. As a result of multiple knee injuries, Jefferson has been frequently sidelined throughout her career. Playing for Connecticut may be just the fresh start she needs.

A New Beginning

“The organization has acquired seven-year veteran point guard Moriah Jefferson from the Phoenix Mercury, in exchange for Rebecca Allen in a sign-and-trade deal. Jeffersonโ€™s contract extends through the next two seasons,” the Sun announced via an official press release.

Jefferson’s homecoming is made all the more paramount given the recent departure of point guard Natisha Hiedeman to the Minnesota Lynx. While Hiedeman was more of a shooting guard shoehorned into playing the point, Jefferson is a true floor general and she will provide some much-needed veteran experience at the point-guard position, something the team has lacked in recent years.

In fact, the Sun are shaping up to have, perhaps, the most veteran-dominant team in the league. Triple-double queen Alyssa Thomas, 5x All-Star DeWanna Bonner, and 2022 Sixth Player of the Year Brionna Jones all return to form the Sun’s “big three.” Jefferson will be a worthy complement to this trio.

While Jefferson has yet to have an All-Star-caliber campaign, she has had an admirable career. In 2022, she recorded the Lynx’s first-ever triple-double and last season with the Phoenix Mercury she had many impressive showings, including a 32-point career-high performance. The Dallas native has averaged 10.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game while shooting 44.2% from the floor over her last two seasons.

A Reunion

Jefferson isn’t the only Husky amongst the Sun’s ranks.

Morgan Tuck, Jefferson’s former teammate and fellow four-time national champ at UConn, is the franchise’s assistant general manager. Jennifer Rizzotti, a player on UConn’s first national title team in 1995 is the team president. And Jefferson will share the floor with Olivia Nelson-Ododa who graduated from UConn in 2022.

Skillset

At just 5’6”, Jefferson doesn’t provide much of a size advantage for the Sun. But what she lacks in size, she makes up for in heart, grit and talent. She is a tenacious defender and extremely quick-footed which allows her to navigate ball screens rather efficiently. Furthermore, Jefferson’s handles are elite and her passing ability is top-notch. She is UConn’s all-time assist leader which is rather impressive given that stars like Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi have also walked through the halls of Gampel Pavilion. More importantly, she has a career 2.13 assist-to-turnover ratio in the WNBA.

Her offensive skillset is also elite. She’s shot an efficient 42.8% from beyond the arc on 2.3 attempts per game over the past three seasons. Her pull-up game is also criminally underrated. She can pull up on a dime due to her ability to quickly shift speed off the bounce. Jefferson also utilizes her quickness to get downhill and attack the basket. She is most definitely a past-first point guard but she can still put the ball in the back of the net.

One of the few concerns with Jefferson’s game is her inconsistency. She can go on a tear and record five-straight games in double figures, but she can also have five-straight games with little to no offensive production. Another concern is her ability to stay healthy, which she has done for the most part these past few seasons.

Looking Ahead

The Sun are once again shaping up to be what looks like a top-five team in the WNBA. With the return of Thomas, Bonner and Jones, the sky is the limit for this franchise. The addition of Jefferson as well as new signees Tiffany Mitchell and Astou Ndour-Fall, among others, may be just the push the Sun need to win that elusive first title.

All player stats are courtesy of Her Hoop Stats and Basketball-Reference.

About Ethan Arcata

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