–Trade Jasmine Thomas and 2023 First-Round Pick–
Uncasville, CT (January 16, 2023) – Today, Connecticut Sun General Manager Darius Taylor announced that the Sun has acquired Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Jasmine Walker and the rights to Kianna Smith from the Los Angeles Sparks, in exchange for Jasmine Thomas and Connecticut’s 2023 first round pick (No. 10 overall).
The Connecticut Sun now has the 6th (via the New York Liberty), 22nd and 34th picks in the 2023 WNBA Draft.
“Jasmine Thomas’s presence on and off the court has been both a driving force and a calming presence to her teammates,” Taylor remarked. “Her leadership and toughness have gotten the Connecticut Sun franchise to incredible heights over the last 8 years. As we look toward the future, we saw moving her as an opportunity to build, while also remaining as a championship contender for years to come.”
Olivia Nelson-Ododa was drafted 19th overall in the 2022 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles (via the Dallas Wings). In her rookie season, Nelson-Ododa played in 30 games, starting six contests. The 6’5 center from Winder, GA averaged 4.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 14.5 minutes per game; ranking 6th in the league in field goal percentage at 56.0%. Prior to the WNBA, Nelson-Ododa played for the University of Connecticut Huskies, where she helped her team to three NCAA Final Fours (2019, 2021, 2022) and a National Championship game (2022). She finished her career sixth in UConn history in blocked shots with a host of accolades to her name, including 2021 BIG EAST Co-Defensive Player of the Year, 2022 All-BIG EAST First Team, 2021 All-BIG EAST Second Team, 2021 BIG EAST All-Tournament Team, and 2020 American Athletic Conference Second Team.
“Olivia is a promising young player that gives us depth and much needed length in the post,” said Taylor. “Olivia’s potential to grow as both a player and a person in our organization is limitless. We look forward to her coming back to Connecticut and joining the team.”
Jasmine Walker was drafted seventh overall in the 2021 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks (from the Chicago Sky via the Dallas Wings). As a rookie, she saw action in two games before missing the rest of the 2021 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. During her second season in the league, Walker appeared in 32 games, averaging 1.6 points and 1.5 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game. The 6’3 forward from Montgomery, Alabama came to the WNBA from the Alabama Crimson Tide, where she helped her team to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2021. Walker left Alabama with a host of accolades, including 2021 Naismith Trophy Women’s Midseason Team, 2021 Preseason All-SEC Second Team, 2021 and 2019 SEC Academic Honor Roll, 2020 All-SEC Second Team, and 2018 SEC First-Year Academic Honor Roll. Prior to her time at Alabama, Walker appeared in five games for the Florida State Seminoles.
“Jasmine Walker is a versatile forward who can stretch the floor and rebound at a high level,” Taylor said. “We look forward to what she can bring to Connecticut on the court and in our community.”
Kianna Smith was drafted 16th overall in the 2022 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks (via the Washington Mystics). As a rookie, Smith saw action in 11 games, averaging 2.6 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 0.4 steals in 10.2 minutes per game. The 6’0 guard from Moreno Valley, California came to the WNBA from the University of Louisville Cardinals, where she helped her team to a NCAA Elite Eight in 2021 and a Final Four in 2022. Smith was also named to the 2021 ACC All-Tournament First Team and all-ACC Academic Team as a Redshirt Junior. Prior to her time in Louisville, Smith spent her rookie and sophomore seasons playing for the California Golden Bears. In addition to being named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team in 2018, in two seasons at Cal, she scored 600 points, made 91 3-point field goals, and dished out 244 assists, helping the Golden Bears to two 20-win seasons and two trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Due to injury, Smith is likely unable to play during the 2023 season.
“Kianna is a player that gives us depth in the backcourt for the future. Kianna’s shooting and scoring capability will be welcomed in our organization. We look forward to her recovery and return to play.” – Darius Taylor, Connecticut Sun General Manager
The Connecticut Sun tip off the 2023 season on Friday, May 19 at the Indiana Fever at 7:00PM EST.
Established in 2003, the Connecticut Sun is a professional women’s basketball team in the Woman’s National Basketball Association that takes residence at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. For more information or to purchase season tickets, visit www.connecticutsun.com.