May 10, 2022 

The Dallas Wings waive hometown star Moriah Jefferson

‘The direction we’re going is not the direction that is for her,’ head coach Vickie Johnson said

The Dallas Wings released six-year guard Moriah Jefferson on May 9. During training camp, the former UConn star told the media that she was entering the season as healthy as she had ever been. However, injuries have plagued her career and prevented her from reaching her full potential. Jefferson was entering the final year of her contract with Dallas and was the highest-paid player on the roster, according to Her Hoop Stats.

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The 5’6 guard entered the league in 2016 as the best point guard in the nation after winning the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard of the Year Award in back-to-back seasons. UConn had won its fourth championship, finishing the season a perfect 38-0. She was selected No. 2 overall in the 2016 WNBA Draft, with her former UConn teammates Breanna Stewart at No. 1 and Morgan Tuck at No. 3. It could not have been written any better. Unfortunately, due to her knee injuries, her rookie season has been the best of her career so far, when she averaged 13.9 points and 4.2 assists per game.

Jefferson was poised to have one of her better seasons as a veteran leader for the Dallas Wings with her familiarity with Dallas Wings head coach Vickie Johnson. She got into the flow of things in 2020 as she was available for 29 of the 32 games, starting 28. In 2021, she averaged 5.4 points and 2.5 assists in 17.2 minutes per game.

After the announcement, Johnson told the media that having to release Jefferson was one of the hardest days of her life.

“I’ve been knowing her since San Antonio and we drafted her there and had her in Las Vegas and now coming here to coach her as well. So it was tough. Also, it was the best thing for our organization but also it was the best thing for her as well,” Johnson said. “The direction we’re going is not the direction that is for her. So, I think releasing her early, she’ll have the opportunity to go somewhere else and play and finish her career somewhere else. We have our roster set at this time. Is it complete? We don’t know yet.”

When Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb addressed the media after the Dallas roster was finalized, he mentioned how the team had an abundance of riches at the point guard position.

This may have been part of the problem for Jefferson. The Wings now have Marina Mabrey, Tyasha Harris and Veronica Burton available to run the point. Arike Ogunbowale could help in that position as well if needed. For Mabrey, Harris and Burton, their time will be divided based on the flow of the game. Mabrey and Harris have more experience and will be able to control the pace. Burton can continue to be a defensive stopper, much like she was in the regular-season opener, and will be able to run the offense as the season progresses.

The Wings have been focusing on becoming a better defensive team. While Jefferson was once named a Defensive Player of the Year in college, she may not have been able to lock down defensively for an entire WNBA season. She will still have the chance to show what she is capable of, but not in Dallas, in front of her hometown fans.

Written by Arie Graham

Arie Graham joined 'The Next' in May 2021 as the beat writer for the Dallas Wings.

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