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Jazmine Jones makes most of tough Liberty season

Louisville alum selected to 2020 WNBA All-Rookie Team

September 30, 2020 John Torenli
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It was Sabrina Ionescu who was supposed to take Brooklyn and the WNBA by storm this summer.

Instead, Jazmine Jones proved to be the New York Liberty’s most impressive rookie.

Ionescu, the first overall pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, managed to play in only three games for the league-worst Liberty, who won two of their 22 regular-season contests at the league’s bubble site in Bradenton, Florida.

The University of Oregon alum’s season-ending ankle injury put a damper on the coronavirus-shortened campaign, especially since the Liberty were unable to play any of their home games at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

But Jones, selected 11 picks after Ionescu by the Liberty, didn’t blink.

Playing point guard for the first time since high school, Jones became the fifth Liberty first-year player ever to make the WNBA All-Rookie Team on Sunday.

“I am beyond excited to be named to this year’s WNBA All-Rookie class and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my teammates, coaches and the Liberty staff,” said Jones, who became New York’s first All-Rookie pick since 2015, when both Brittany Boyd and Kiah Stokes earned the honor.

Jones ranked fourth among all rookies in scoring with 10.8 points per game. She also pulled down 4.1 boards, ranking third among first-year players, and picked up a rookie-best 1.4 steals per game.

Though she came off the bench in all but two of her 20 games at the IMG Academy, Jones logged just over 21 minutes a game and dealt out 2.3 assists per contest.

She scored a team-high 21 points in a season-ending 82-79 loss to Dallas on Sept. 13, hitting 8 of 13 shots from the floor, handing out four assists and grabbing seven rebounds for New York, which will have the best shot at the top pick in next year’s draft as well as a healthy Ionescu in 2021.

“A lot of teams and a lot of players probably would have entered that game a lot more lackadaisically than than this group did,” Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins said after the narrow defeat.

“At the end of the day, the thing that I see the most is this team fighting, staying together.”

Jones received six All-Rookie votes from a panel of the WNBA’s 12 head coaches, each of whom selected five players regardless of position. No coach was permitted to vote for one of their own players.

Jones, who has also received All-Rookie accolades from the Associated Press and ESPN this year, is joined on the squad by fellow first-year standouts Julie Allemand (Indiana), Chennedy Carter (Atlanta), Satou Sabally (Dallas) and WNBA Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield (Minnesota).

“It’s an honor to be among such a talented group of elite players, and I look forward to continuing to get better as a professional,” said Jones.

The Liberty lost rookie sensation Sabrina Ionescu to an ankle injury in their third game of the season. Photo: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

Give Me Liberty: Kelsey Bone (2013) and Kalana Greene (2010) are the other two Liberty rookies to have made the team. … Before their season-ending loss to Dallas, the Liberty took care of some business by re-signing Stokes to a one-year extension through next season. The five-year veteran was the only Liberty player to start and participate in all 22 games at the league’s bubble site. “Kiah is an integral part of our team and she has shown tremendous growth in her game both offensively and defensively this season,” said Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb. “As one of the best shot blockers in the league, her physicality and ability to stretch the defense is something that is integral to the Liberty’s culture and future success.”

In local college sports news, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams at Remsen Street’s St. Francis College received United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Awards last Thursday.

SFC was one of 178 schools in the nation to have both of its soccer programs recognized for academic excellence by the organization.

The men’s soccer program, which finished sixth in the Northeast Conference last year, claimed the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic honor for the first time since 2014 after posting a 3.27 cumulative GPA for the 2019-20 academic year.

The women’s team took home the award for the first time ever as it concluded the inaugural campaign in program history with a 3.59 GPA.

United Soccer Coaches annually celebrates the academic achievements of high school and college soccer teams whose student-athletes collectively demonstrate a commitment to excellence in their studies over the course of a full academic year.

The Terriers’ men’s soccer team was one of 337 men’s teams in the nation to capture the award, while the women’s program was one of 560 women’s teams to claim the honor.

College Team Academic award recipients are active members of the United Soccer Coaches College Services Program with a composite grade point average of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale for all players on the roster for the 2019-20 academic year.

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