Jonquel Jones has flown under the radar throughout much of her basketball career, but she and her Connecticut Sun teammates know that’s beginning to change.
Because while Jones has showcased her talents throughout her six WNBA seasons, highlighted by winning the league’s MVP award in the 2021 campaign, now she is gaining popularity off the floor. Most recently, the 6-foot-6 forward starred in national insurance commercial with NBA players, including Trae Young.
“I definitely feel like my personality fits,” Jones said during a video conference in part of the team’s media day. “In terms of seeing it coming, I just play basketball and take the opportunities as they arise. But I’m loving it.”
The three-time WNBA All-Star has continued her rise among the league’s best. A 2016 first-round pick out of George Washington, Jones was the WNBA’s Most Improved Player in 2017 and the Sixth Woman of the Year in 2018. She has since followed it up with All-Star selections in consecutive seasons and is the best player on a team with title aspirations.
“I’m happy to be a face of the league,” Jones said. “It comes with the territory. It comes with the hard work and everything that I’ve put in. Hopefully things keep trending up.”
Sun general manager and head coach Curt Miller is among those inside the organization who expressed their support regarding Jones’ ascension. Miller signed off on Jones being in the insurance commercial as it was filmed during the 2021 season.
He is confident her off-court notoriety will continue to grow given her on-court work ethic. Jones averaged a career high in points (19.4) last season.
“The shine that she has received is totally back on her,” Miller said during media day. “She has put the work in. She’s put the time in on the court, in the weight room, with trainers, with our staff. She truly is a workaholic when it comes to adding tools to her tool bag. Every single year since being in the WNBA she’s come back and added something.”
Teammates have taken notice of that, too.
“It means a lot. We love JJ,” veteran guard Jasmine Thomas said. “She is truly the core of what we are trying to accomplish here and how we’re going to be able to it. And you could always see it in her from her rookie year. I still don’t feel like she’s even tapped into all her greatness, her potential. So just super proud of her. Happy to see how she handles all of it with so much grace.”
Alyssa Thomas added: “All the recognition that she’s getting is well-deserved. And I know we’re all so proud of her, especially me. Sky is the limit and I hope she has continued success.”
The WNBA doesn’t have the same type of popularity that consistently prompts an abundance of followers on social media or high-paying endorsements. The WNBA, for example, has 1.2 million Instagram followers in comparison to the NBA (66.8 million) or NFL (24.4 million). And Jones has that same battle, too. The Sun superstar has just 33.1K followers on Instagram while someone like Tom Brady has 12 million and Patrick Mahomes has five million.
Nevertheless, Jones is building her off-the-court resume like other WNBA stars — Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, etc. — have before her. And those inside the Sun organization also believe Jones has the personality to become a face for the sport.
“She’s got the islander in her, the Bahama native,” Miller said. “She’s laid back, but as you get to know her, there’s not a player in our league with a bigger heart that cares for her teammates, coaches, cares for players around the league. I believe this is just the start and that JJ is very, very marketable.”
Alyssa Thomas added: “She keeps our spirits, she keeps us laughing all the time and, like I said, her being the MVP is just the start of it. And just hopefully continued success and seeing her more in commercials.”