September 29, 2021
After weeks of speculation by Bahamians and basketball fans, women’s professional basketball player Jonquel ‘JJ’ Jones was named as the 2021 KIA Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP) on Tuesday. The official announcement was made by the league hours before Jones and the Connecticut Sun tipped off their postseason, taking on the Chicago Sky in the WNBA Semifinals.
The Holmes Rock native made history as she became the first Bahamian athlete to be named MVP of a major professional sports organization.
Jones opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. She spent most of the season back in Grand Bahama, and used that time to work on her craft along with her mind, body and soul, she said.
“I was just posted up back home in The Bahamas playing video games and working out, pretty much every day, and I basically trained like a 6’ 6” guard. I worked on my ball-handling and my Eurostep in the lane and my body-control under pressure. I was looking at Dirk (retired NBA star Dirk Nowitzki), at KD (NBA star Kevin Durant) – at players with my size who can be versatile and stretch the whole floor… basically just trying to level up my whole offensive game,” Jones wrote for the Players’s Tribune – a media platform out of the United States that produces daily sports conversation and publishes first-person stories from professional athletes.
The 6’ 6” post player for the Sun was one of the league’s top players coming into this season, winning the WNBA’s Most Improved Player (MIP) Award in 2017 and the WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Award in 2018. She is the first WNBA player to win all three awards, and is the second non-American to be named WNBA MVP behind Lauren Jackson of Australia – a three-time winner.
Jones is also the second player from the Sun to win the award, following in the footsteps of Tina Charles who won in 2012.
It was a landslide victory in the MVP voting this year as Jones received 48 of the 49 first-place votes, finishing one vote shy of winning the award unanimously. She scored 487 points from a national panel of sports writers and broadcasters. Coming away with a second-place finish with 224 points that included one first-place vote was Phoenix Mercury’s center Brittney Griner. Rounding out the top three finishers was the 2018 WNBA MVP, Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart.
All three players played together for Russian club UMMC Ekaterinburg in the WNBA offseason in the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League. They won the league and the EuroLeague Women’s titles this past season.
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