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WNBA Will Lack UConn Star Power This Season

Sue Bird is the latest former Husky to miss the WNBA season.

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Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

The WNBA will have no shortage of former UConn women’s basketball stars this season with 18 players under contract with one of the 12 teams. However, the league will be lacking some its brightest stars this year as four Huskies will either miss the entire season (or close to it).

On Tuesday, the Seattle Storm announce that Sue Bird will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery to “remove a loose body” in her left knee. The operation will threaten Bird’s season with the team saying she will be out “indefinitely.”

Coming off a 2018 WNBA title, the Storm are having a nightmarish offseason. In addition to Bird’s injury, Seattle will be without superstar Breanna Stewart for the entire 2019 campaign after she tore her achilles in EuroLeague Championship Game. The team also announced earlier in May that head coach Dan Hughes is battling cancer.

Bird and Stewart aren’t the only former UConn stars out for the foreseeable future. Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi will miss a big chunk of the regular season after undergoing back surgery in late April. The three-time national champion has dealt with back issues throughout her career and the latest surgery corrected a disc protrusion that caused muscle weakness and nerve pain so bad she couldn’t perform routine tasks.

Maya Moore will also miss the entire 2019 season but not with an injury. Instead, Moore announced in February that she is stepping away from basketball to focus on her family while also exploring ministry — a longtime dream of hers.

While the WNBA will be without its brightest UConn stars, the league will still feature plenty of Huskies. There are 14 healthy players spread across seven different teams. The New York Liberty feature the most UConn players with four: Tina Charles, Bria Hartley, Kiah Stokes and Kia Nurse. The Liberty also had Kelly Faris on their preseason roster but released the point guard during cutdowns.

Out in Chicago, the Sky feature three of the biggest personalities to come through Storrs recently. Stefanie Dolson, Katie Lou Samuelson and Gabby Williams will all don the sky blue and yellow this season in the Windy City.

Like Samuelson, Napheesa Collier is also getting ready for her rookie season. The 6-foot-1 forward went No. 6 overall in the WNBA Draft to the Minnesota Lynx, two picks after Samuelson.

After a blockbuster trade last week, Moriah Jefferson will team up with Azura Stevens on the Dallas Wings. After spending the first three seasons of her career with the San Antonio Stars/Las Vegas Aces, Jefferson will return home with Dallas — having grown up 25 minutes outside the city.

The Atlanta Dream feature another pair of Huskies in guard Tiffany Hayes and Renee Montgomery. Hayes has spent the entirety of her seven-year career in Atlanta while Montgomery is preparing for just her second with the Dream.

Out in Seattle, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis is the only former UConn player left standing with the Storms after the Bird and Stewart injuries.

Just down the road from Storrs, Morgan Tuck is entering her third season with the Connecticut Sun. The team sent forward Chiney Ogwumike to Los Angeles which could lead for more minutes for Tuck this year.

Saniya Chong spent training camp with the Las Vegas Aces but got cut on Monday.