January 4, 2022 

Natisha Hiedeman accepts qualifying offer from Connecticut Sun

How the fourth-year guard's return impacts the rest of the Sun's offseason

After a breakthrough third season where Natisha Hiedeman emerged as the Connecticut Sun’s go-to sixth woman; she could have a chance to take on an even bigger role in her fourth year in Uncasville after accepting the team’s qualifying offer on Monday.

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Hiedeman is coming off her best season in which she averaged career highs with 7.6 points per game and 1.9 assists in 20.1 minutes per game; helping the Sun to a league-best 26-6 regular-season record before falling 3-1 in the semifinals to the Chicago Sky. She appeared in all 36 games throughout the season and playoffs and totaled 30 steals on the year. 

“We are excited about the re-signing of Natisha Hiedeman,” head coach and general manager Curt Miller said in a statement. “Natisha is coming off a career year and has been an important offensive spark plug for us off the bench. She can facilitate and score, but her value extends beyond the court as she is an excellent teammate. Her future with the Sun is bright.”

According to Her Hoop Stats, since Hiedeman signed the offer before Jan. 15 – the first date that teams can negotiate with players – the deal has to be a one-year contract for the three-year veteran minimum, which is $72,141. 

The Sun’s biggest question mark this offseason is whether they can keep both Briann January and Jonquel Jones, or if the Sun decide to go in a different direction and sign a more offensive-minded guard. Hiedeman showed she can handle big minutes. And the value of her contract always made it seem like an obvious choice to bring her back for a fourth season.

Hiedeman was the veteran player in a training camp where the Sun’s starters arrived late because of overseas commitments. And she took the opportunity to mature as a leader and establish herself as the Sun’s sixth-person throughout the year. 

Her quickness and three-point shooting gave the grinding Connecticut offense a spark throughout the season. And her coaches and her teammates noticed improvement on defense – a-must-to-earn minutes from Miller.

She set the tone for Connecticut’s season early on, starting four of the first five games as the shorthanded Sun raced out to a 5-0 start – scoring a career-high 17 points in the second game of the season, then following that up with 19 coming off the bench in the next game.

The signing is a win-win, as Hiedeman can continue to develop in a system and with a coaching staff that she knows very well. She’s gotten better each year and could see an increase in minutes next season if January doesn’t return. The Sun have most of their 2021 roster in place. And securing a key piece of their bench on a relatively cheap deal before negotiations begins must be a sigh of relief for Connecticut’s front office.

It’s also not necessarily surprising that Hiedeman accepted her qualifying offer from Connecticut so quickly. It’s the only team she’s played for in the WNBA. And she’s engaged to starting point guard Jasmine Thomas, who is signed to a protected deal through 2023. In a recent YouTube video, Thomas and Hiedeman said they enjoy being teammates in the WNBA since they play for different leagues overseas during the offseason and don’t get to spend much time together. 

Hiedeman is currently averaging 14.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game for Nadezhda in Russia. 

Along with Hiedeman, the Sun have seven other players signed to this year’s roster: DeWanna Bonner, Alyssa Thomas, Brionna Jones, Jasmine Thomas, Kaila Charles, DiJonai Carrington, and Beatrice Mompremier, who signed a qualifying offer from the Sun on Tuesday. Second-year forward Stephanie Jones also currently has a qualifying offer extended to her, according to Rachel Galligan. The Sun own the rights to all three of their 2022 draft picks, including the No. 12 pick in the first round.

League negotiations begin Jan. 15, and players may begin signing contracts on Feb. 1. 

Written by Jacqueline LeBlanc

Jacqueline LeBlanc is the Connecticut Sun beat reporter for The Next. Prior to The Next, Jacqueline has written for Her Hoop Stats and Sports Illustrated.

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