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'I'm full-go now:' After sitting out last season with an injury, UConn alum Moriah Jefferson is eager to return to lead young Dallas Wings squad

Alexa Philippou, The Hartford Courant on

Published in Basketball

Moriah Jefferson was on the cusp of making her WNBA return when the season was postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic. But whenever play returns, she'll be ready.

Not just basketball-wise, but also in terms of her physical health. When Jefferson finally retakes the court, a moment she's been waiting for since a knee injury sidelined her all of last season, she'll be playing in her first WNBA game since August 2018.

"I'm full-go now," Jefferson said in a phone interview. "For the rest of my career, I'll always be doing maintenance, making sure I'm icing, keeping my hips and hamstrings and quads strong. But as far as everything on the court, I'm full-go, no limitations -- cutting, running, sprinting, defense, pretty much everything is good.

"It's good to finally be back healthy, and now it's just about waiting for the season to start."

The former UConn standout and No. 2 draft pick, who won four national championships while in Storrs, signed a multiyear contract with the Dallas Wings this offseason, allowing her to join her hometown team (Jefferson grew up in Glenn Heights, Texas, part of the Dallas metroplex). The deal, which High Post Hoops reports is for three years and has full protection, was a tremendous show of confidence from the Wings for a player who has yet to play for the organization following her trade from Las Vegas and additionally missed significant chunks of the 2017 and 2018 seasons due to injury.

"Moriah is one of the top young point guards in the league when healthy," Dallas Wings president and CEO Greg Bibb said in a statement announcing Jefferson's deal. "After staying home this winter and working on rehabbing and strengthening her knee, I believe she will return to her pre-injury level of play. I think Moriah can be a leader for our organization for a long time to come and I'm excited to have her wear a Wings jersey in front of her hometown fans."

 

Even considering the uncertainties of this upcoming WNBA season, Jefferson's ready to roll mentally, too. Sitting out the 2019 season to ensure her knee would be 100% healthy moving forward, she said, was "one of the hardest things that I've had to do." Now, she's keeping active with home workouts and has a driveway hoop to get some shots up while awaiting word from the league on what form, if any, the season and her return will take.

"I can't wait," Jefferson said. "If you know me as a person, I'm super competitive with absolutely everything. ... I'm really missing that part, the competition, being around my teammates and having that chemistry and that fun locker room talk and just hanging out. So I'm so excited for the whole thing."

Jefferson is hoping to put together her first full season of WNBA play since 2016, when she started all 34 games for the San Antonio Stars and averaged 13.9 points and 4.2 assists on her way to making the all-rookie team. Though her injury hindered her progression in the three seasons since, she ensured she was still improving her approach to the game when she sat out last season by dedicating herself to breaking down film and studying personnel.

"All these point guards that I have to guard," Jefferson said, "I feel like I know them even more than I did before I was injured."

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