Jones earns 2019 WNBA Peak Performer Award; hurricane victims to benefit

Bahamian professional women’s basketball player Jonquel ‘JJ’ Jones is a peak performer!

The Connecticut Sun starting center earned that distinction on Monday, as announced by the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Jones, 6’6”, was named as the 2019 WNBA Peak Performer awards winner for rebounding. It was the second time winning the award in her four-year career, having also done so during the 2017 season when she set the single-season mark for rebounds. To date, Jones is the player in WNBA history to collect more than 400 rebounds in a season, tallying 403 during the 2017 season. She averaged a double-double that year, dropping in 15.4 points and 11.85 rebounds per game – the second-highest single-season rebounding average in league history behind Minnesota Lynx center Sylvia Fowles’ 11.88 rebounds in 2016. This year, Jones collected 330 total rebounds, averaging 9.7 per contest, and dropped in 14.6 points per game. Indiana Fever rookie center Teaira McCowan finished second in rebounding, averaging nine per game, and Fowles finished third with 8.9 rebounds per game.

Jones was on pace to once again average double figures in rebounds but played reduced minutes coming down to the end of the season, with the Sun already clinching one of the top two spots in the standings and a bye straight through to the league semifinals. The Sun finished second in the standings with a 23-11 win-loss record – their best mark since the 2012 season, and the third straight year they won more than 20 games in a season. They tied the club record for home wins with 15, finishing 15-2 at home. Elena Delle Donne and the Washington Mystics, won the pennant with a 26-8 win-loss record.

The other peak performer awards went to Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner and Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot for scoring and assists respectively. Like Jones, Griner and Vandersloot earned the same awards in the 2017 season.

The WNBA presents the peak performer awards annually to the players who lead the league in each of those categories during the regular season, and each winner receives a trophy crafted by Tiffany & Co. in honor of her accomplishments.

Jones grabbed 10 or more rebounds 16 times this season. On May 31, the two-time all-star set a WNBA season-high and matched her career-high with 22 rebounds against the Los Angeles Sparks. Jones and the Sun fell out of contention for the pennant, losing their final two games of the regular season. They fell at home to the Sky on Friday, 109-104, and were drilled by the Fever on the road in the season finale on Sunday, 104-76.

Be that as it may, Jones and the Sun will host the first game of a best-of-five semifinals series, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Tuesday, September 17, at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

This is the Sun’s first trip to the league semifinals since the 2012 season.

All cash sales from the Sun’s first playoff game on September 17, will benefit victims of Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas. Jones has additionally donated $10,000 and has also established a GoFundMe page to assist in the recovery efforts.

“We get caught up in wins, losses, postseason seeding – and then Hurricane Dorian happened and it provides immediate perspective about what’s important. JJ is a special player, but an even better person,” said Sun Vice President Amber Cox. “Immediately when the storm hit The Bahamas, our fans, her teammates and coaches and the entire organization wanted to help. This generous donation to a deserving non-profit assisting the recovery efforts in The Bahamas is really an indicator of what the ‘Mohegan Tribe’ is all about – people and family above all. The support we receive is truly unmatched.”

Jones’ hurricane relief GoFundMe page – Help My Bahamas by Jonquel Jones – has raised a total of $40,686 so far.

Last week, Hurricane Dorian pounded Abaco and Jones’ home island of Grand Bahama, causing billions of dollars in damage. With winds up to 185 miles per hour and gusts as high as 220 miles per hour, it was the strongest hurricane on record to ever hit the northern Bahamas.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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