THE FINISH LINE: WNBA All-Star Game starter Jonquel Jones 'turning heads' for Bahamas

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Brent Stubbs

By BRENT STUBBS

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

IT IS not how you start, nor how you get there. Most importantly, it's how you finish.

• The Finish Line, a weekly column, seeks to comment on the state of affairs in local sports, highlighting the highs and the lows, the thrills and the spills and the successes and failures.

THE WEEK

THAT WAS

In just her second season in the league, Grand Bahamian forward Jonquel Jones broke new grounds and is turning heads for the Bahamas.

Her latest achievement came this week when she was named as a starter for the East team in the 2017 Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).What an accomplishment.

Jones, a 6-foot-6, 190-pound forward with the Connecticut Sun, was one of 10 players selected by fans, current players and a select media panel for the July 22 All-Star game presented by Verizon that will be played in the Key Arena, the home of the Seattle Storm.

The feat, however, is not surprising as the 23-year-old Jones is living up to her expectations coming out of George Washington University where she was drafted.

She continued what has been a remarkable tenure at George Washington where she was the career leader in scoring, rebounds, blocks and as a three-time All-American 10 Conference pick.

In each of her two-plus seasons, she was one of the few players to average a double-double (scores-rebounds) per game.

So far this season, Jones is averaging 15.9 points, a league-leading 11.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 29 minutes per game. She is also shooting 54 per cent from the field and 48 per cent from three-point range.

Jones is joined in the starting lineup with her Sun teammate Jasmine Thomas, along with Tiffany Hayes of the Atlanta Dream in the backcourt.

The team becomes even more intriguing with former WNBA MVPs Tina Charles of the New York Liberty and Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics.

While it would be good to see if Jones can duplicate her regular season performance in the game, it won't be easy as the Western Conference starters include the Seattle Storm's Sue Bird and the Phoenix Mercury's Diana Turasi in the backcourt.

Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx teammates Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles are in the frontcourt, which makes an interesting match-up against any of her foes.

We're rooting for Jones as she gets set to establish herself as one of the top professional players in the WNBA, following the brief stint by Waltiea Rolle as the first Bahamian to play in the league. She was a third-round pick (36th overall) by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2013 WNBA Draft and appeared in all three pre-season games with the team, averaging 7.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game.

Just imagine seeing Rolle and Jones in the league either going head-to-head on opposing teams or combining forces to play together on one team.

It would be nice, but Rolle is out of the WNBA and making plans to get back in, hopefully before long to fulfil that dream of watching two Bahamians in action in the women's league.

We're rooting for Rolle to regain her international status to make her return to the league in short order.

THE WEEK AHEAD

The stage is now set for the hosting of the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Chef de mission Derron Donaldson and his assistant Emily Lowe released the names of the athletes that will represent Team Bahamas against 62 visiting countries and more than 1,100 athletes.

It's a pretty good team with some very talented athletes so it will be interesting to see how well the Bahamas will fear in the nine disciplines that will take place during the games July 18-23.

The various facilities are in a state of readiness for the games, which will be held for the first time in this side of the world. It was originally set for Saint Lucia, but they had to withdraw because of financial reasons and the Bahamas was eventually awarded the bid in 2016.

Who would have thought that the Bahamas would be staging such a major international competition right now? With the world class facilities that we have to offer in one central location, the Bahamas was the logical choice by the games secretariat in their selection.

Let's be ready to put our best foot forward, as we normally do when guests are in town, to make these the most memorable games so far.

Let the Games begin.

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