June 30, 2020 

Chicago Sky sign Stella Johnson after Sydney Colson tests positive for COVID-19

Johnson figures to fill out Chicago back court rotation

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Former Rider University guard Stella Johnson is heading to Chicago after signing a deal with the Sky, the team announced on Monday.

The signing comes two days after Sky guard Sydney Colson announced on Twitter that she had tested positive for coronavirus. Chicago’s roster had dropped to 10 active players.

Johnson led women’s Division I basketball in scoring last season and led Rider to a 26-4 record. The Phoenix Mercury drafted the 5-foot-10 guard with the 29th overall pick, but waived her before she made it to training camp to get the roster down to the 12-player maximum.

“We really liked that she is a physical guard, who can give us some guard depth at the point guard and off-guard positions,” Sky head coach James Wade said.

The former Bronc continued to work out after getting cut in preparation for her next shot with a WNBA team or a team overseas. Rider head coach Lynn Milligan said Chicago will be a good landing spot for the rookie.

“I think that she’s playing with some terrific veterans that she’s going to learn from and I think she’s just going to be a sponge as far as just watching players like [Courtney] Vandersloot and those guys,” Milligan said.

The Sky won’t need Johnson to be a major contributor right away with a back court of Kahleah Copper, Diamond DeShields, Allie Quigley and Vandersloot on the roster.

But every member of that quartet other than Vandersloot will see time on the wing this season and Wade anticipates moving Gabby Williams, who was the de facto backup point guard last season, to the wing full-time. That leaves plenty of minutes for Johnson to make an impact coming off the bench, especially when Vandersloot sits.

“I think they’re going to be really excited by the versatility that she brings,” Milligan said. “In my opinion she can play any of the guard spots. She can score on all three levels. She looks strong and she’s big, but she’s stronger than she looks. She can take a hit and still finish.”

While Johnson’s scoring is the first thing that jumps off the stat sheet, she was also an elite rebounder at the guard spot in college and is a tough defender. She was top 20 in steals last season and brought a high level of defensive intensity despite a massive usage rate.

Milligan said Stella, like most rookies, will have to get used to the speed of play in the WNBA and that she’ll have to tighten up her handle so she’s not such an easy mark. Johnson was ninth in the nation in turnovers per game at 4.6, per Her Hoops Stats.

“She knows she has to go down there and prove herself and do her job every day, consistently,” Milligan said. “And when her number is called I think she’ll be ready.”

Written by Nick Niendorf

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