Basketball

Connecticut's Jonquel Jones named WNBA MVP

Jonquel Jones led a sweep of three major WNBA awards for Connecticut, earning MVP honours hours before the Sun opened their best-of-five playoff series against Chicago on Tuesday.

Sun's Curt Miller named coach of the year, centre Brionna Jones most improved

Jonquel Jones averaged 19.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists, as Connecticut went a league-best 26-6 to secure the top seed in the playoffs. (Ashley Landis/Associated Press)

Jonquel Jones led a sweep of three major WNBA awards for Connecticut, earning MVP honours hours before the Sun opened their best-of-five playoff series against Chicago on Tuesday.

She averaged 19.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots to earn her first MVP award. Jones received all but one of the 49 first-place votes from a national media panel. Phoenix center Brittney Griner garnered the other first-place ballot and finished a distant second. Breanna Stewart of Seattle was third, followed by Minnesota's Sylvia Fowles and Washington's Tina Charles.

"When I found out I was really emotional, teary-eyed," Jones said. "To get to share the awards and accolades with coach and teammates, it's good to have that happen."

Jones, who was born in the Bahamas, knows her homeland will celebrate her award and she feels a responsibility to continue to develop basketball there.

"I have a huge responsibility to make sure I'm not the only one," said Jones, who came to the U.S. and was actually cut from her varsity team in high school. "I have a lot of work to do now. A lot of responsibility to help find the next Jonquel Jones."

Sun coach wins top honours

Jones has already won two of the other major WNBA awards, earning the Most Improved Player in 2017 and the Sixth Woman of the Year in 2018.

"Her name will be forever mentioned with some of the greats all-time," said Connecticut's Curt Miller, who was chosen as the league's Coach of the Year.

It's the second time he's won the award, also receiving it in 2017.

"Sometimes with your best teams, the less you coach, the less you say, the better off it is," Miler said. "We have a locker room filled with tremendous veterans and leaders."

Miller, who became the sixth coach to win the award at least twice, had 41 of the 49 votes, with Minnesota's Cheryl Reeve second with six votes. Bill Laimbeer of Las Vegas and Noelle Quinn of Seattle each received one vote to finish in a tie for third.

Miller is in his sixth season with Connecticut and guided the team to the best record in the league (26-6) and the top seed in the playoffs. Connecticut won its final 14 games of the regular season — the fourth-longest streak in league history.

Jones most improved

A big part of the Sun's success was due to the league's Most Improved Player — Brionna Jones. She received 38 of the 49 votes. She averaged career highs of 14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists for the Sun this season.

"Our team success has led to our individual success," Brionna Jones said. "The way we've worked together as a team, top to bottom ... everyone has contributed to the season we've had this year."

Las Vegas Aces' guard Kelsey Plum finished second with eight votes. Dallas guard Marina Mabrey was third, with last season's winner Betnijah Laney also garnering a vote.

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