NEW YORK – Connecticut Sun forward/center Jonquel Jones, who produced a record-setting rebounding season, has been named the 2017 WNBA Most Improved Player, the WNBA announced today. The second-year pro is the third Sun player to earn the honor since it was first presented in 2000.
Jones received 32 of 40 votes from a national panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Los Angeles Sparks guard Chelsea Gray finished second with three votes. San Antonio Stars center Isabelle Harrison and Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley tied for third with two votes each. Washington Mystics center Krystal Thomas received one vote.
The 6-6 Jones set WNBA single-season records for rebounding average (11.9) and total rebounds (403), surpassing the marks established by Tina Charles in 2010. Jones also set a WNBA single-season standard for total defensive rebounds (280), breaking the record set by Breanna Stewart in 2016.
Connecticut secured its first playoff berth since 2012 as Jones thrived under Head Coach and General Manager Curt Miller, who was honored today with the 2017 WNBA Coach of the Year and WNBA Basketball Executive of the Year awards. The Sun, which earned the No. 4 seed in the WNBA Playoffs 2017 presented by Verizon, will host a second-round, single-elimination game against the Phoenix Mercury Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
A starter in all 34 games, Jones raised her scoring average from 6.8 points last season to 15.4 this year and lifted her rebounding average from 3.7 to 11.9. She registered 20 double-figure scoring games, twice the number she tallied last year. Jones also improved her three-point field goal percentage from 33.3 to 44.6 (25-of-56) and increased her free throw percentage from 73.9 to 81.8 (135-of-165).
In addition to leading the league in rebounding, the former George Washington University standout tied with Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles for the top spot in double-doubles with 20, up from two in her rookie season. She also finished sixth in field goal percentage (.534, 181-of-339).
Jones was a first-round draft pick by Los Angeles in 2016 before being acquired by Connecticut on draft night. The Bahamas native entered the 2017 season as the player most likely to have a breakout year, according to a vote by WNBA general managers.
In honor of being named the WNBA Most Improved Player, Jones will receive $5,000 and a specially designed trophy from Tiffany & Co.