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Why Brionna Jones’ Journey from Injury to All-Star Should Inspire Us All

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Image Credit: Testudo Times

Brionna Jones of the Connecticut Sun has defied the odds by earning WNBA All-Star honors in 2024, less than a year after suffering a devastating Achilles rupture. This inspiring journey highlights her resilience and dedication, making headlines across the sports world.

Jones began the 2024 WNBA season under a minutes restriction, much to the frustration of her Connecticut Sun teammates and herself. “That wasn’t an option,” teammate DeWanna Bonner joked following an 80-67 victory over the Atlanta Dream. “We were all mad when she wasn’t playing more minutes.”

Jones’ career trajectory has been on a steep upward climb since her first All-Star selection in 2021. She was also named the league’s Most Improved Player that year and earned the Sixth Player of the Year Award, plus her second All-Star honor in 2022. However, her rise was abruptly halted last year due to an Achilles rupture on June 20, leading to a challenging year-long recovery process.

Despite initially averaging less than 25 minutes per game in her first ten appearances of the season, Jones quickly regained her form. By July 2, she had earned her third WNBA All-Star selection, averaging 12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game across 21 games. Her field goal percentage stands at an impressive 53.9%, placing her in the league’s top five.

“I knew that coming back in, it wasn’t going to be easy trying to get back in shape, but it was easier when I had my teammates behind me with their support and staying in my ear,” Jones said. “They were like ‘Bri, you’ve got to take these shots. We need you to do this.’ And I always want to do whatever I can for my team. But to be able to be back and playing at this level, it’s unbelievable almost.”

Jones’ season-high performance came on May 31, when she scored 22 points against the Dallas Wings in her first game playing more than 30 minutes. Since then, she has scored in double figures in nine out of 13 games and boasts the highest net offensive and defensive rating among starting forwards in the league.

Connecticut Sun coach Stephanie White praised the meticulous approach taken to manage Jones’ recovery. “We were really intentional early about her minutes and minutes restrictions, and our athletic training staff and doctors have done a really good job of communicating with us as coaches transparently and telling us exactly what she can and cannot do,” White said. “We were disciplined with that early in the season so that we could get to the point where she was not just comfortable from a conditioning standpoint, but with rhythm, timing, building endurance. All of those things were really important.”

Jones spent most of her recovery at her alma mater, the University of Maryland, where she served as an assistant coach for the women’s basketball program under two-time AP Coach of the Year Brenda Frese. This role allowed her to stay connected to a team environment and access top-tier medical and athletic training resources.

“I’m really proud of her, because that injury is not easy to come back from, and she was always — from day one — ahead of schedule,” White said. “She positioned herself well being at Maryland and being around a support system, and a staff medically and personally, that could help continue to push her and be a support system for her … As someone who’s played in this league and who has been injured and had surgeries, that is not easy. It’s very, very lonely. So not only has she positioned herself to just be ready to play, but she’s an All-Star … It’s a tribute to her hard work and her dedication, and her ability to stay true to the process.”

Frese highlighted the unique opportunity her players had to witness Jones’s recovery process. “They would see her on the front or back end of practice progressing into her own game, working out with one of our coaches or going through her own workout, so it’s pretty cool that they got to kind of see through the time she would spend in the training room and then on the floor,” Frese said. “She was burning the candle at both ends between making sure she wasn’t going to miss anything from rehab and getting herself ready to return to play, but then also pouring into her coaching position in the season to be a part of our team. Like she does with everything she tackles, she just did it with a tremendously high work ethic.”

Jones will compete for Team WNBA in the All-Star game on July 20, alongside Bonner, who was selected for the sixth time in her 15-year career. They will face off against their teammate Alyssa Thomas, who is preparing for her first Olympic Games with Team USA. Jones, a member of the USA Basketball player pool and a gold medalist at the 2022 FIBA World Cup, is among the top options should Team USA need an alternate forward for the Paris Games.

“It’s big, certainly for AT being represented there but with USA Basketball, and for DB just consistency building off of a year ago, and what she’s been able to keep doing. She’s been outstanding,” White said. “And for Breezy, just her ability to come back and not just be effective and efficient, but to just seem like she wasn’t injured at all. I’m proud of all of them. They deserve it. They’ve earned it, and just looking forward to their opportunity to represent.”

Brionna Jones’s journey from a severe injury to achieving All-Star status is a testament to her resilience, dedication, and the unwavering support from her teammates and coaches. Her story is an inspiration to athletes everywhere, demonstrating that with hard work and determination, it is possible to overcome even the most daunting obstacles.

This story was originally featured on Hatford Courant

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