June 30, 2024 

What does Moriah Jefferson’s absence mean for Connecticut? 

Connecticut Sun backup point guard Moriah Jefferson underwent ankle surgery earlier this week and will be reevaluated in three weeks

When Moriah Jefferson landed in Connecticut in the offseason, she was thrilled. She was back in the state where she won four consecutive NCAA championships as a star point guard at UConn.

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“I’ve won on every level except the WNBA,” Jefferson said at her introductory press conference. “So obviously, I want to get a championship.”

But Jefferson, who’s dealt with a myriad of injuries in her eight WNBA seasons, has been limited by a lingering ankle injury all year. The Sun announced earlier this week that she underwent arthroscopic surgery on her right ankle on Monday. 

Moriah Jefferson has been dealing with that ankle injury since last season, and she was held out of a preseason game with injury management. She played limited minutes all year, and then missed two games in early June as the ankle flared up. While she returned shortly after, Jefferson has been out of commission since June 12th and had the surgery on June 24th. 

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She will be re-evaluated in three weeks, but given that the regular season pauses on July 18th, her debut almost definitely won’t come before the season resumes on August 15th after the Olympic break. Her health status for the second half of the season—and into the postseason—has not yet been specified.  

Jefferson was traded to Connecticut in February for Rebecca Allen, and seemed poised to play significant guard minutes. But, she’s dealt with injuries all year and has only played 55 minutes in the 2024 season, averaging 2.1 points on 37.5% shooting in 6.8 minutes a night. In her place, the team has brought on Veronica Burton to handle backup point guard duties. 

Moriah Jefferson has dealt with injuries throughout her career 

The #2 pick in the 2016 draft, Jefferson had a great rookie season, averaging 13.9 points and 4.2 assists. But, since 2018, her career has been hampered by a slew of injuries. She missed 17 games in 2018, the entire 2019 season, and most of the 2020 season.

When she was first traded to Connecticut, Jefferson told reporters that she stays resilient through setbacks by celebrating the steps to getting back on the court. 

​​“For me, it’s about one day at a time, small goals,” Jefferson said. “So getting off of a crutch, that’s a small goal. Taking a step, that’s a small goal. And I celebrated those things as if I was on the court. I think for me, doing those things helped me when I get back on the court, with my confidence, but [also] my mentality of understanding that basketball is what I do and I love to play, so I’m not going to take one day off or one day for granted.”

The last three seasons, Jefferson has been much healthier. She spent a year in Dallas, a year in Minnesota, and a year in Phoenix. She played double-digit minutes in nearly all of those games, and seemed primed for a significant bench role in Connecticut. That’s yet to play out, but it’s still possible Jefferson returns to pre-injury form and contributes in the latter half of the season. 

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Veronica Burton taking on back-up point guard responsibilities 

When it became clear Jefferson’s injury could keep her for extended time, the Sun waived Queen Egbo and signed Veronica Burton. Burton, a third-year guard who was waived by the Dallas Wings, has thrived in her role since her arrival.  

“She’s a great teammate—she’s someone who comes in and is a terrific locker room person,” head coach Stephanie White said of Burton. “She’s high energy, high IQ, she’s a hard worker. You can tell her something once, and she gets it.”

Burton played limited in her first 7 games as a Sun. But, she’s had a larger part in the rotation in recent days, playing 22 minutes against the Mystics on Thursday, and 17 minutes the following night. 

In the meantime, Jefferson’s return looms. At her best, she’s a double-figure scorer and a prolific facilitator. She can also hit the three, something the Sun have been sorely lacking. If she can bounce back well from the surgery, Jefferson could still serve as a meaningful contributor come playoff time.

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Written by Noa Dalzell

Noa Dalzell covers the Boston Celtics for SB Nation's CelticsBlog and the Connecticut Sun for The Next. Her work has also appeared in FanSided and Swish Appeal, as well as CLNS Media. When she's not writing about basketball, she's playing basketball or lobbying for a more sustainable food system.

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