UConn in the Pros: Stewart secures bag, Drummond plays well

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Breanna Stewart, F/C, Seattle Storm 

When the WNBA free agency signing period began on Tuesday, Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart agreed to a one-year supermax contract to return to Seattle. With the new contract, Stewart, a former UConn women’s basketball star, became one of three WNBA players to be paid a supermax salary. The other two, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, are also UConn women’s basketball alumni. In her five professional years, Stewart has averaged an impressive 20.0 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. Her 20.0 points per game is the third-highest average in WNBA history and is the second highest mark among active players. This past season, both Stewart and Bird led the Storm to a final record of 21-11, good enough for fourth place in the WNBA standings. 

Andre Drummond, C, Philadelphia 76ers 

After serving as the backup center for Philadelphia much of this season, Andre Drummond received starting duties in place of the resting Joel Embiid for Monday’s contest against the Memphis Grizzlies. Drummond saw the floor for 43 minutes — by far the most minutes he’s racked up in a game this season and his most playing time since Nov. 1 when he played 34 minutes. In Monday’s game, Drummond tallied 16 points, 23 rebounds and five assists in a 122-119 overtime victory. The 23 rebounds were tied for the second-most by a single player in a game this season, as both Drummond and Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis each recorded 25 rebounds earlier this season. Before their Wednesday evening matchup versus the Washington Wizards, the 76ers have a record of 31-19 and are the Eastern Conference’s second seed, only one game behind the first-seeded Chicago Bulls. 

Kemba Walker, PG, New York Knicks 

Ever since breaking out with 44 points on Dec. 23, Walker has been on a cold streak in terms of scoring. In the ten games he has played since then, Walker has yet to eclipse the 20-point mark, averaging just 7.7 points per game on an average of 25.6 minutes per game. After Monday’s matchup with the Sacramento Kings, Walker’s stat line read zero points, one assist, three rebounds and one steal in 17 minutes of action. It was the third time in Walker’s career he did not record any points in a game. The 31-year-old is averaging his lowest point per game total since he was a rookie in 2011 and is playing fewer minutes than ever before in his professional career. It seems a knee injury he has been dealing with over the past few seasons may be negatively impacting his level of play. Before Wednesday’s matchup against Memphis, Walker’s Knicks held the eleventh seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 24-27. 

James Bouknight, G/F, Charlotte Hornets 

After splitting time for much of the season between the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and their G-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, rookie James Bouknight has seen playing time in each of Charlotte’s last six contests. In his most recent action on Sunday, Bouknight saw 19 minutes of game time, where he recorded 10 points, three rebounds and two steals in what was ultimately a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. It still seems a majority of Bouknight’s minutes are coming in garbage time when his team has either built a large lead or is in a major deficit. His 19 minutes in the blowout loss compares to only seven minutes of action in Charlotte’s prior game, a more competitive 117-114 win over the Los Angeles Lakers last Friday. Even so, it is encouraging to see the prospect receive more opportunities at the NBA level given the success he’s had in Greensboro. Before Bouknight’s Hornets take on the Boston Celtics on Wednesday evening, Charlotte’s record stands at 28-23 and it sits at the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. 

Miscellaneous 

Point guard Jalen Adams scored 13 points to go with six rebounds and four assists for the Israeli Premier League’s Hapoel Jerusalem BC in an 85-75 loss to BC Prometey on Jan. 27. In the Turkish Basketball Super League, Petkim Spor Kulübü’s Daniel Hamilton scored four points, three rebounds and three assists in a 91-83 overtime loss to Tofaş Spor Kulübü. Portland Timbers midfielder George Fochive and Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake are set to begin preseason action for their respective clubs with the upcoming 2022 Major League Soccer season kicking off on Feb. 26. 

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