2012 training camp for the Tulsa Shock started on Sunday with a bang. A few noticeable players were missing, primarily due to overseas obligations. But one was absent for the more vague 'personal reasons', until that reason was brought forward on Monday.
Tiffany Jackson Jones is pregnant with her first child, to be born this winter. Nevermind the fact that I hadn't even heard of her nuptials until the baby news broke, but Jones is sure to be missed when the 2012 season fires up.
"It is a very exciting time for my family and I as we prepare for the birth of our first child," Jones said in the release. "I'm extremely sad that I won't be joining my team on the court this season but I hope to attend many games in Tulsa to support my new and old teammates. I will be cheering them on from a distance and look forward to them having a great 2012 season."
The 5th overall pick of the 2007 WNBA Draft by the New York Liberty, she led the Shock in scoring (12.4 ppg), rebounding (8.4 rpg) and minutes (34.9 mpg) last season. Jones was second on the squad with a 45.6 field goal percentage, 1.18 steals per game and .68 blocks a night. Her 11 double-doubles was good for third in the league, only behind Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles. Jones tied for second in the league's most improved player voting in 2011 and earned her 1,000th career point in the WNBA in an August loss to the Indiana Fever.
Jones' impending absence coupled with the fact that Liz Cambage won't be joining the team until after the Olympics perhaps explains the bevy of post players that head coach Gary Kloppenburg selected in the draft. Glory Johnson, Vicky Baugh and Lynetta Kizer joined the fold on draft day and look to be more viable options to stick on a final roster that doesn't include Jones. The other forwards/centers that are in camp this year include the return of Chante Black, Amber Holt, Jen Lacy and Kayla Pedersen.
Regardless of who sticks on the roster, filling the void left by Jones of both leadership and basketball ability will be paramount for the Shock in order to achieve success on the court in 2012.
"Obviously we are going to miss her rebounding, energy and veteran leadership but we drafted a couple young forwards that can contribute in the front court," Kloppenburg said. "We are excited for Tiffany and look forward to having her return next season."
Best of luck to Mr. and Mrs. Jones as they prepare for their new addition!