Going into her senior season, expectations were low for Saniya Chong. Few thought she would hold onto her starting job and the idea she could be a WNBA draft pick seemed far-fetched.
Count Dallas Wings head coach Fred Williams as one of the few that believed.
“Ever since she was a freshman,” said Williams on when Chong first caught his eye. “It started way back when and kind of followed the young lady.”
Chong struggled with injuries and inconsistency over her first three years before putting it all together in her final season. Despite limited usage at times, Saniya had clearly developed and Williams liked what he saw.
“I thought she had grown over the years, especially with the UConn streak,” he said. “And she got more minutes than any other point guard that went into the pros.”
Although third round picks are typically viewed as long-shots to make the roster, Chong has a step up on the competition coming from Geno Auriemma’s juggernaut in Storrs.
“She comes out of a structure of a championship DNA organization in UConn,” he said. “And when you have that type of player, she understands winning, she understands her role as a point guard who can distribute the basketball and set up the team.”
Her former roommate at UConn, the great Breanna Stewart, was thrilled to see Chong get the call from the WNBA after the uncertain start college career.
“I'm so happy for her,” the Husky legend said. “She's my best friend... Just to see the jump she made, how she stepped up in her senior year and took on a leadership role that nobody really knew if it was there or not, and she took it and just put herself in a great position in Dallas.
“Hopefully she'll just continue building opportunities for herself and taking advantage of them.”
WNBA site lists Erin Phillips as being cut by Dallas Wings so that should put #UConn grad Saniya Chong on opening day roster— Jim Fuller (@NHRJimFuller) May 10, 2017
Through the preseason, Chong impressed her coaches by facilitating the offense and leading from the point. Those traits will give her the opportunity to see a solid number of minutes early on.
“She's a great floor lead,” said Williams. “I look to utilize her a great deal this season and rely on her great basketball IQ.”