The Day – Sun’s Williams has learned from past experiences

Mohegan — The Connecticut Sun were blessed with a weekend away from the job after constantly being on the go-go-go.

It was perfect timing for Courtney Williams because she got to bounce down to Georgia for the 10-year reunion of the Class of 2012 at Charlton County High School in Folkston.

“Yeah, I’m getting old,” Williams said with a grin.

Williams is hardly old (she’s only 28), but considers herself wiser after a tumultuous few years. She requested the Sun trade her to the Atlanta Dream during the 2020 offseason because she wanted to be closer to home.

She got into a fight outside of an Atlanta-area club in May 2021 and posted the video. It led to the WNBA suspending her for the first two games of this season and Atlanta choosing to part ways.

Williams and Connecticut host the Dream on Wednesday in the first game between the two this season (7 p.m., Mohegan Sun, NESN Plus).

“It’s a completely different team,” Williams said about playing against Atlanta. “Different coach, different everything.

“As I get older, I don’t take any of that stuff personally, man. I feel like my experience when I left Connecticut, just kind of how messy it was, to be back here, you look back on certain things. You’re like, ‘was it really that serious?’ Business is business and I feel like that as I’ve gotten older, that’s what I understand.”

Williams was the Sun’s starting off-guard for three seasons and played a big role in helping turn the struggling franchise around, culminating in a trip to the 2019 WNBA Finals. She asked the team during that offseason to trade her to be closer to home and was dealt to Atlanta as part of a three-way deal that sent guard Briann January from Phoenix to Connecticut.

Williams was a workhorse for the Dream. She led the WNBA in minutes last season (1,101) and was 11th in scoring (16.5 ppg). She also averaged 6.8 rebounds (14th) despite being 5-foot-8 and 139 pounds, and tied with Candace Parker of the Chicago Sky with 4 assists per game.

Williams got herself in trouble this past October when she posted a video of herself and teammate Crystal Bradford fighting a group of people outside an Atlanta-area club the previous May. Williams quickly apologized for posting the video but the damage had already been done, and the Dream opted not to bring either back. 

“I had a YouTube channel, and I was posting my everyday life, things that I actually went through,” Williams said. “I’m an open book. I don’t have nothing to hide.

“Some things I do need to keep under wraps and I’m cool with that. I’m older now. I don’t move in the same spaces no more. I don’t be on the wild-type of time that I once was on. I still have fun but I think now I’m more selective on the places and the people I kind of put myself around.”

Some of Williams’ old teammates reached out to her after the Dream decided not to re-sign her. The first person from the Sun who did so, however, was head coach and general manager Curt Miller.

“Curt literally texted me the next day and was like, ‘Court, people who know you know your heart,’” Williams said. “‘Keep grinding.’”

The likes of DeWanna Bonner, Jonquel Jones and Alyssa Thomas began recruiting Williams back to Connecticut. She received a few offers from other teams but opted to return to the Sun.

“I already had my heart set on coming back here based on the conversations that were had,” Williams said. “I had offers that were offering way more money than what I had to come back here.

“My biggest thing was being somewhere where I felt supported and comfortable.”

Williams has averaged 27.5 minutes and 9.9 points for Connecticut (10-4).

“There’s a positivity about Courtney that certainly, you know, filters through the team,” Miller said. “On the court, (she) gives you a dynamic playmaker that can get really streaky hot and gives us another dynamic offensive weapon.”

• Miller said the Sun will announce a player signing on Wednesday morning after releasing reserve guard Yvonne Anderson on Saturday. Connecticut’s backcourt suffered a huge loss when longtime starting point guard Jasmine Thomas tore the ACL in her right knee on May 22 in the team’s fifth game of the season.

n.griffen@theday.com

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