A dream come true: Richfield’s January selected in 2017 WBNA Draft

Sports Editor

Richfield’s January selected in 2017 WBNA Draft

Former Richfield standout Jessica January did not know if she would be selected in the 2017 WNBA Draft after missing most of two months during her senior season with DePaul University with a broken right index finger.

Former Richfield standout Jessica January was drafted with the fourth pick in the third round of the 2017 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun after four successful years at DePaul University. (Photo courtesy of DePaul University Athletics)
Former Richfield standout Jessica January was drafted with the fourth pick in the third round of the 2017 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun after four successful years at DePaul University. (Photo courtesy of DePaul University Athletics)

January, who was been named to the John R. Wooden Award Women’s Preseason Top-30, the Preseason Naismith Trophy Watch List and the Nancy Lieberman Award watch list  during the season, ended her DePaul career with the fourth-highest total in career assists in program history. She is also tied for No. 7 all-time in steals, No. 10 in field goals and No. 17 in career points at 1,530. January ended her senior season averaging 15 points, 6.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Despite her success at DePaul, she was unsure if a team would draft her after her injury-shortened senior campaign.

January’s WNBA dreams were realized April 13, when she was selected with the fourth pick in the draft’s third round (28th overall pick) by the Connecticut Sun.

“It feels amazing, we weren’t really sure, with the way my senior went, how things were going to go,” January said. “It just feels even greater that I still have the opportunity to be able to try out for this team and play in the WNBA.”

January knows being drafted by the Sun is just the beginning of her WNBA journey. January will partake in the Sun’s training camp beginning April 22 to begin working toward a spot on the Sun’s regular season roster.

“I think a lot more excitement, but I’m ready to start playing now,” January said. “Having to wait the few days puts on a little more anxiety, but I’m ready to get out there and have a chance to compete with such good players.”

January, with the help of former teammates and coaches, has a plan for how she plans to do her best to earn a spot on the Sun’s roster.

“I just want to go in there and just be me,” January said. “I have gotten a lot of advice from other players and coaches, and I don’t want to go there and do too much or play outside of my game.

“I want to go there, play the best I can and play how I have been playing over my career, because that is why they drafted me. I’ll compete with anyone on the team and hopefully if they feel I can do really well for their team they will pick me up.”

January’s injury may have set her back during the regular season, but, now healthy, she believes she can use that experience of fighting through adversity to her advantage.

“Unfortunately with playing in sports injuries are a part of that,” January said. “It’s nobody’s fault, but having to deal with that, even as a team we had a lot of injuries this year, I think having to go through that adversity and be resilient has helped me and has helped the team this year.

“If an injury were to happen, I’d rather have it now, so I’m healed and I’m happy I have full health now going to WNBA tryouts. I’m grateful I have everything going for me and my body.

“Thankfully throughout my career here I have been healthy and I haven’t had to deal with an injury other than general soreness,” January added. “Being in a tough spot like that, especially in my senior year, it should definitely help during tryouts and having to fight through adversity.”

No matter what happens at her first WNBA tryout, January knows she has the full support of the Richfield community.

“After I was drafted, to have the amount of people from the Richfield community reach out to me and that were congratulating me feels so great,” January said. “Some of my past teachers, even teachers from intermediate school, reaching out to me feels so good, and I am so thankful that I am from Richfield.

“I can’t wait to get back later in my career.”

When she does return to Richfield, January said she is looking forward to giving back in any way that she can.

“Outside of playing basketball for the wins and losses, [being a role model] is why I play,” January said. “It’s for the younger girls, for the youth that are looking up to you.

“Especially for women’s sports, we don’t necessarily have that same money incentive, things are changing, but we play for that same love of the game. Richfield isn’t known for their sports, so it means so much more that I’m able to be that positive role model.”

January credits growing up in the Richfield community for helping her get to where she is at today.

“Things have been going so fast this senior year and I haven’t had the time to sit back and reflect yet, but it’s unbelievable,” January said. “Starting out in Richfield, I had no real concept of what college basketball would be like or how my career would be playing at the collegiate level.

“My junior and senior years in high school, having such a great team and being able to play at state and those bigger games gave me a taste of what it would be like to play in those crowds, but coming to DePaul and playing with [DePaul University head women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno] and having some great teammates has just been an experience I couldn’t have imagined I would have.”

Contact Chris Chesky at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.