HEAD coach of the Connecticut Sun Curt Miller is anticipating the opportunity to work with rookie Kaila Charles when the 2020 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) begins. Miller said Charles can be one of the missing pieces to steer the Sun to the WNBA title after falling agonisingly short in 2019.
Connecticut Sun may not have to tweak their style as they were one win away from winning a championship last season. The Sun’s uptempo gameplay propelled the team to the 2019 WNBA finals, falling at the final hurdle 89-78 in the deciding game five against Washington Mystics.
Charles, 22, was born to Trinidadian father Walter and Antiguan mother Ruperta. Charles, who was selected 23rd overall in the draft, is the third person with TT roots to be drafted by the WNBA following Pietra Gay and Gillian Goring.
In an interview with Newsday on Wednesday, Miller said Charles, along with the experienced forward/guard DeWanna Bonner, can help the Sun get their hands on the trophy.
“A crazy successful year, (but) unfortunately came up short in the final game in the final,” Miller said.
“We added DeWanna Bonner in the offseason. DeWanna is one of the premier players in the league, so a huge addition for us and now with Kaila Charles another versatile, athletic player that plays both ends of the floor. We feel like we have improved pieces to take that championship step and have an opportunity to get back to the championship series if we could stay healthy.”
Miller said Charles, who is six feet one inch, can play guard and forward which will be an asset to the Sun’s style.
“We are excited about having the opportunity to draft her into the Connecticut franchise. Certainly what stood out to us was her versatility, playing multiple positions (and) she has a pro-ready body.
“She is a tremendous athlete and really thrives playing in the up-tempo style and we are a team that plays very much up-tempo. We led the WNBA in scoring in both 2017 and 2018, so we are a team that loves to play in transition and I think she is going to thrive in our system and in that kind of play.”
Miller said the Sun followed Charles during college, but her senior year really impressed the organisation. “We followed her entire collegiate career, but really picked up steam going into the senior year. She had a great junior year, she was on our radar on a shortlist. We have had her for the last two months on our top ten in the draft board, so we really thought highly of her.”
Charles, who admires the late Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and current Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore, completed a four-year collegiate career at the University of Maryland.
Charles averaged 14.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Last season, she led the University of Maryland in both scoring and rebounding.
Miller said the University of Maryland has helped fuel the talent on the Sun’s roster. “We have two players on our team previously that also played at Maryland, so it has been a good pipeline for us. We have known and followed Kaila for a while now.”
Alyssa Thomas and Brionna Jones also attended Maryland.
The covid19 pandemic has stopped sporting events worldwide including the start of the WNBA season, which was scheduled to start on May 15.
Miller said his players are professionals, and with the help of staff, are keeping active during the pandemic. It is uncertain when the 2020 season will tip off.