There were no guarantees that this moment would come for Connecticut Sun guard Yvonne Anderson.
The odds of reaching the WNBA stage shrunk with each passing year as Anderson toiled away in overseas basketball leagues, where she played for the last decade. But Anderson kept pushing and grinding, and most importantly evolving on the court, in hopes it would lead to the opportunity she always wanted.
That opportunity now has arrived.
Her perseverance paid off in a monumental way as the 32-year- old Anderson will play in her first WNBA season this year with the Sun.
“My game has just survived,” Anderson said during the team’s media day before the start of the season. “I know a lot of players that I started with, they’re not here. I know players who are younger than me, they’re not still playing. My game has just matured and I think it came with the timing and maybe that’s just what my journey is supposed to be, a little bit of an evolution and a little test of patience. But I’m grateful for it because it has me in this position right now.”
Timing ended up being everything for Anderson. The 5-foot-7 guard from Columbia, Mo., who played her college basketball at the University of Texas from 2008-2012, said it wasn’t until last year that she recognized that this all could be a possibility for her.
Anderson put herself on the Sun’s radar due to her steady play in Turkey over the last three seasons along with a massive 2021 campaign in which she secured dual citizenship with Serbia and led it to the title of the EuroBasket 2021 Championship.
Anderson also suited up at the Tokyo Olympics for Serbia. She helped the group finish in fourth place while showcasing her ability, including a 15-point performance against the United States, to do a little bit of everything as the team’s leading scorer.
“It was just another opportunity to play at a high level and to compete at a high level,” Anderson said of her Olympic experience. “That’s always been my goal. I just wanted to play the best. Obviously, you want to prove some things, but you have to get out there first. … The people are watching what do you show and I just tried to show my best and just tried to compete and if nothing else show the heart that I have.”
The Sun signed Anderson to a training camp contract in late February, and she displayed enough during training camp to make the team despite arriving late after fulfilling her overseas commitments.
Connecticut general manager and head coach Curt Miller raved about the composure Anderson exhibited not only on the court, but also in handling that difficult situation. It’s something Anderson, who is the daughter of St. John?s University men?s basketball coach Mike Anderson, believes she has cultivated given the several different situations she has played in throughout her career.
“At this point, it’s definitely maturity,” Anderson said. “You go on different teams, different strategies, different coaches, and the ideas, no matter what, especially as a point guard, you need to lead. You have to be that one that can lead the offense and the defense in a poised manner so that everyone follows you. No matter how the game goes, you’re always ready to answer to any call.”
While Anderson obviously isn’t the prototypical rookie, she feels she can make an immediate impact. Anderson hopes to bring her aforementioned composure along with her years of basketball experience and a measure of toughness to carve out a role with the Sun.
“It’s a challenge because you know you have to raise your level, but at the same time I’m not intimidated,” Anderson said. “This is where I feel I belong and I’m willing and ready to do whatever they expect out of me to help us get to our goals.”
For Anderson, it’s been a long and arduous journey to reach the WNBA, but she’s appreciative of the winding road and endured everything thrown her way to get to this point.
“I think it took me taking a step back and really being grateful for what I have been able to do,” Anderson said. “I’ve been invited to another training camp besides this and I think at that point I didn’t understand that it’s a long game, just in terms of basketball. Even if it’s not about the W, this whole basketball journey, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
The Sun, who opened their season with an 81-79 loss to the New York Liberty, return to action Saturday against the Los Angeles Sparks, a game you can watch on NESN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET.