Basketball players

Here’s what you need to know

As the WNBA season begins on Friday, the UConn women’s basketball program will be well represented across the league.

There could be up to 20 former UConn players participating in the 2022 season, whether they’re playing on a roster or working behind the scenes on the team’s staff.

From longtime veterans and new WNBA champions to rookies and surprise cuts, here’s a team-by-team breakdown of where the former Huskies were heading into the WNBA season:

Atlanta Dream

Last season: 8-24

Opening 2022: Saturday in Dallas

Listing: Guard Tiffany Hayes (stays away Wednesday) and forward Megan Walker

Hayes is entering his 10th season in Atlanta while Walker will join his third new team in as many seasons. After being selected No. 9 overall as a junior in New York’s 2020 draft, Walker played 18 games for New York during his rookie season. Last year, she played 29 games in Phoenix while starting seven and averaging 4.5 points and 1.3 rebounds in 14.7 minutes per game. Atlanta picked up Walker by waiver in the offseason.

Team staff: Renee Montgomery (co-owner and vice-president)

After 11 years of playing in the league (including two WNBA titles), Montgomery retired in 2021. She continues to be an analyst for the league and ESPN while handling the Dream’s co-ownership and vice-presidential responsibilities.

Dallas Wings

Last season: 14-18

Opening 2022: Saturday vs. Atlanta

Listing: Guard Moriah Jefferson

This summer will be Jefferson’s fourth year in Dallas, but his third active season after sitting out in 2019 with an injury. She averaged 5.4 points, 2.5 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 28 starts last year.

Los Angeles Sparks

Last season: 12-20

Opening 2022: Friday in Chicago

Listing: Forwards Katie Lou Samuelson and Olivia Nelson-Ododa

Samuelson was traded to Los Angeles from Seattle in exchange for fellow ex-Husky Gabby Williams in the offseason. Nelson-Ododa was selected by LA with the No. 19 overall pick in the April draft and survived training camp cuts to officially earn a spot on the team’s opening roster. She posted impressive pre-season numbers and is currently tied for 4th in the league with an average of 5.0 assists.

Phoenix Mercury

Last season: 19-13

Opening 2022: Friday vs. Las Vegas

Listing: Center Tina Charles and guards Kia Nurse and Diana Taurasi

Charles was added to the Mercury this offseason and will help run the job while the franchise remains without Brittney Griner, who is being held in Russia. Nurse has spent the offseason recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee she suffered in the playoffs last season. The Mercury, with future Hall of Famer Taurasi as its centerpiece, will be looking to return to the Finals after falling to Chicago for the title last fall.

chicago sky

Last season: 16-16, champions 2021

Opening 2022: Friday against Los Angeles

Listing: Center forward Azura Stevens

Stevens is entering his fifth year in the league after helping Sky win their first title last season averaging 7.4 points, 1.1 blocks, 1.1 assists and 4.7 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game.

Indiana fever

Last season: 6-26

Opening 2022: Friday in Washington

Listing: Guards Bria Hartley and Crystal Dangerfield.

This is Hartley’s first season at Indiana, but she will be sought to manager immediately as the team works toward a rebuild this season. The nine-year veteran played just six games last season for Phoenix after recovering from a torn ACL in 2020.

Dangerfield, the 2020 Rookie of the Year, was waived by Minnesota on Tuesday. She was out of work for two days, signing with Fever Friday.

Minnesota Lynx

Last season: 22-10

Opening 2022: Friday in Seattle

Listing: Striker Napheesa Collier

Collier is pregnant with her first child and due to be due in May, she will miss the start of the 2022 season. She signed a multi-year contract extension with the Lynx on May 2.

Seattle Storm

Last season: 21-11

Opening 2022: Friday vs. Minnesota

Listing: Guards Sue Bird and Gabby Williams and forward Breanna Stewart

Although Bird has not publicly confirmed that this season is her last, the 41-year-old is expected to retire after the 2022 campaign. Seattle remains centered around its big three in Bird, Stewart and Jewell Loyd. The Storm picked up Williams in an offseason trade with Los Angeles for Samuelson.

UConn senior Evina Westbrook was waived by Seattle on Wednesday afternoon. She was one of two rookies remaining in training camp after earlier cuts. Westbrook was drafted No. 21 overall by the Storm and put in an impressive pre-season performance last week.

Connecticut Sun

Last season: 26-6

Opening 2022: Saturday in New York

Team staff: Jennifer Rizzotti (President) and Morgan Tuck (Director of Franchise Development)

Rizzotti, the former Hartford coach, took over the role of franchise president last April. She will make her 3×3 debut later this summer in the FIBA ​​3×3 World Series as the head coach of Team USA. Tuck retired from the game in 2021 after five years in the league. She was originally drafted by Connecticut in 2016 as the third overall pick.

Ace of Las Vegas

Last season: 24-8

Opening 2022: Friday at Phoenix

Listing: Kiah Stokes Center

Stokes is entering her seventh year in the league, playing with Las Vegas after being waived by New York in June 2021. She has averaged 1.5 points and 5.4 rebounds and Las Vegas – under coach freshman Becky Hammon – re-signed her over the winter.

New York Freedom

Last season: 12-20

Opening 2022: Saturday against Connecticut

Listing: Stefanie Dolson Center

Dolson enjoyed success in 2021, winning Olympic gold for the first time with Team USA in 3×3 basketball’s Summer Games debut before winning his first WNBA title with Chicago in the fall. Dolson, who grew up about two hours north of New York, signed with the Liberty in the offseason.

Washington Mystics

Last season: 12-20

Opening 2022: Friday against Indiana

In recovery assistance: Christyn Williams’ rookie season ended three days into camp after suffering a season-ending knee injury in training. Washington has yet to release a timeline for her return, but said the current UConn senior will have access to team support and recovery resources this summer.

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