Sun

Sun Shine Bright in Athlete’s Unlimited

on

The inaugural Athlete’s Unlimited basketball season has come to an end. Forty four players gathered in Las Vegas for five weeks to compete in the new league. Three of those players, DiJonai Carrington, Courtney Williams, and Taja Cole will be reporting to Connecticut for training camp at the start of the WNBA preseason. Fans of the Connecticut Sun are likely familiar with Carrington and Williams, as Carrington was the Sun’s lone rookie last season, and Williams last played for the Sun in 2019. They might not, however, be familiar with Cole.

Adding New Talent

Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Cole played for three different programs during her college career: Louisville, Georgia, and Virginia Tech. In her 2020 season at Virginia Tech, she was an ACC All-Defensive Team selection and received Honorable Mention All-ACC honors. After finishing her college career, the 5’9 point guard played a year of professional basketball in Spain.

Following an impressive showing in her first few games in AU, it was announced on February 2nd that the Sun offered Cole a training camp contract. Head Coach and General Manager, Curt Miller, said in a statement “We are excited about adding Taj to our roster. She plays with contagious energy and spirit. Taj is a dynamic facilitating point guard that excels in transition. She is also a disruptive ball defender that we were looking to add.” As the roster stands now, the Sun don’t appear to have a true back up to point guard Jasmine Thomas. There’s Natisha Hiedeman, but she isn’t quite the distributor that Thomas and Cole are, and she plays better off the ball as a spot up shooter. If she’s able to make the team, Cole could be a nice option to spell Thomas when she needs a breather.

Cole finished tenth on the AU leaderboard. Out of the top 12 finishers, she is the only one to have never cracked a final WNBA roster. She scored 20 or more points in six contests, with her highest scoring output being 26. Cole tallied eight or more assists in five games. She also had two games with four steals, per auprosports.com. Miller, who was in Las Vegas for the first week of action, clearly saw something in Cole. Now, she’ll have her chance to prove him right.

Williams Stays Sharp

Williams finished just in front of Cole on the AU leaderboard in the ninth spot. This is especially impressive when you consider that Williams missed the first week of action due to health and safety protocols. She averaged 15.5 points per game and 6.6 assists per game in 12 games. In four out of 12 games, Williams secured a double-double. She will be expected to make an immediate impact for the Sun, the same way she did on each and every team she played for during the AU season.

Sophomore Surge

The most impressive showing from a Sun player this AU season has to be from none other than Carrington. She finished seventh on the leaderboard. In three games, she scored 30 or more points, including a 41 point performance in an overtime game on February 18th. Carrington averaged 24.1 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game throughout the 15 game season, according to auprosports.com.

After a WNBA rookie season where she only averaged 9.2 minutes and 2.8 points per game, per Her Hoops Stats, the AU season couldn’t have come at a better time. It should serve as a nice confidence boost heading into training camp in a couple months. Miller is widely known to rely heavily on his starters. Some might say that’s because he hasn’t had teams with great bench depth. Whatever the case is, the Sun need to be able to give their stars some rest without there being too huge of a drop off in production. The Sun could really benefit from Carrington settling in as a productive role player. She’s a strong wing who defends well. Miller can hopefully find some value in her defense. Carrington was named to the AU Defensive Team of the Year.

Miller also spoke about the experience that Carrington gained when she was a captain for week one of the AU season. Captains were responsible for, well, basically everything. They draft their team, coordinate substitution rotations in games, design plays, and more. In a press conference, Miller referred to Carrington as a “very underrated player X’s and O’s wise.”

Connecticut, Here We Come

This AU season was undoubtedly a success in many different ways. It provided opportunity for some less well known players to showcase their talents. Allowing current WNBA players to sharpen their skills ahead of the upcoming season. Even giving the fans the chance to watch some high level, competitive basketball. It’s certainly a success for Sun fans, considering Sun training camp attendees accounted for three of the top ten spots on the final leaderboard. Carrington, Williams, and Cole all showed what they can bring to the table during those five weeks. How that translates to training camp is the real question. Next stop, Uncasville.

About Kayla Dos Santos

Recommended for you

Powered by themekiller.com