The Connecticut Sun are filling out their training camp lineup, announcing Wednesday they’ve signed three college seniors to camp contracts.
Illinois State’s Kristi Cirone, Murray State’s Ashley Hayes and Duke’s Carrem Gay will all report to Connecticut for the start of camp on May 18 with the hopes of making the Sun in a season when spots are at their highest premium in WNBA history.
In addition to trimming rosters from 13 to 11 players, teams have also been forced to reduce the number of players available to open camp from 18 to 15. Making the competition even more intense is the expected presence of most of the Sun’s stars, including Lindsay Whalen and Asjha Jones, who have missed the start of camp in previous years.
The league pushed its opening weekend back roughly three weeks this season, affording players competing overseas more time to arrive in time for the preseason. Some, like Whalen and Australian Erin Phillips, are already in the United States.
That will put the onus on the undrafted seniors to make an immediate impact, though they all come with credentials.
A three-time Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, the 5-foot-8 Cirone is the leading scorer in Illinois State history (2,139 points), and last season ranked second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.57) while averaging a team-high 18.8 points per game.
Hayes, a 5-foot-10 guard, is the first player in Murray State history to earn an invite to a WNBA camp. Another pure scorer, she averaged 22.6 points per game as a senior and set a school record by netting 46 points at Tennessee State on Feb. 4. She topped 30 points seven times last season, including five games in a row.
The 6-foot-2 Gay averaged 6.6 points and 5.1 rebounds last year while playing alongside Sun first-round pick Chante Black at Duke. Gay ranks ninth all-time in program history with 80 blocks.
The Sun open the preseason on May 22 against New York and have to make final cuts by June 5, a day before their season- and home-opener against the Washington Mystics.