August 9, 2020 

Kaila Charles’ provides a spark in the Sun’s loss to the Sky

Charles' defense fuels her offense in a breakout performance

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Kaila Charles is a rookie that veterans on the team don’t want to be guarded by. 

“It is definitely cool hearing DB [DeWanna Bonner] talking about ‘Oh I don’t want Kaila guarding me today.’ It gives me confidence because these are the greats and they think I can guard them,” she said. 

While Charles had a breakout offensive performance for the Connecticut Sun (1-6), head coach Curt Miller said that it was her defense that kept her on the court for a career-high 25 minutes in a 100-91 loss to the Chicago Sky (5-2) Saturday night. 

“She stayed in place, she gave us a body on [Allie] Quigley. Quigley had 10 points immediately out of the gate and we needed to change something. Kaila gave us a spark. She’s a pesky and disruptive defender at times,” Miller said. 

Charles said that she wanted to focus on her defense coming into the WNBA because while she guarded different positions at Maryland, she wasn’t recognized for her defensive efforts. 

She scored a career-high 15 points on 4-5 shooting and made all six free-throw attempts. She also added two rebounds, an assist and a steal. 

Kaila said her success on the offensive end was fueled by her defense and not trying to force anything. 

“I was just reading the defense, if a cut was open, I would try to cut. If the pass was there or [I’d] look for my shot, but I was just trying to go with the game,” she said. 

Because Charles stepped up and played more minutes, other members of the team were able to get a few more minutes off, something that is more important than ever in a condensed season. 

“For her to be able to come in and as a rookie, and stand out and make a difference and be able to give some people some rest and not have a drop-off, that’s really important,” Jasmine Thomas said. 

Connecticut has struggled to keep up their energy in the second half, but if Charles continues to play significant minutes the team may be able to give their starters a few more minutes off. This may help the team keep up their energy throughout the game. 

Charles is one of three former Maryland players on the Sun and said that having Alyssa Thomas, who frequently came back to practice with the Terps, and Brionna Jones who Charles played with as a freshman, has helped her transition. 

“It’s great to have them because I’ve never left home,” Charles said.  

She went on to say, “So being away from home and having familiar faces made the transition easier … All the vets are helping me but having those two that I knew before coming here definitely helped the transition be more smooth.” 

Despite her breakout performance, Charles remains humble, and grateful to be in the league, saying, “I mean, being able to be here as a blessing. I mean, being able to play the game that I love during the pandemic is a blessing. So I’m just soaking it all up and learning every day.”

The Sun return to the court on Aug. 10 to take on the Atlanta Dream at 6 p.m. 

Written by Natalie Heavren

Natalie Heavren has been a contributor to The Next since February 2019 and currently writes about the Atlantic 10 conference, the WNBA and the WBL.

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