Kaila Charles and Juicy Landrum talk Draft Day Experiences and more
The two newest members of the Connecticut Sun spent the moment back home with their families, inside as so many of us are. But the night is one neither player will ever forget.
With the 23rd pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, the Connecticut Sun selected Kaila Charles (Maryland). The team selected Juicy Landrum (Baylor) with the 35th overall pick.
While both players grew up near the colleges they would go onto play, both are set, and excited, to come to Connecticut whenever they can.
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Charles had gathered with her family the night of the draft, her mom made a dinner complete with menus, and then they moved to the living room to watch the draft.
She recalled the excitement she felt after her name was called.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play at the highest level,” Charles said in a conference call with reporters. “And to have the Sun believe in me and pick me and give me this opportunity was just a blessing. And so we were just so excited and ecstatic and I’m just ready to play.”
Charles will be reunited with Brionna Jones, who she played with her freshman year, and Alyssa Thomas, who along with Jones often returns to practice with the Terrapins. She is looking forward to having familiar faces in Connecticut and her role models to help her in the transition.
During her freshman year, she would always ask Jones questions and pick her brain and looks forward to continuing that.
“I love the fact that she’s always willing to lend a hand that question because I knew her my freshman year of college. So she’s definitely going to help me transition. And I love the fact that I have Bri for another couple years,” Charles said.
Charles is excited to play with all of her new teammates, noting Thomas, Jones and Jonquel Jones specifically.
Jonquel Jones played at Riverdale High School, where Charles would later attend, so Charles has been watching her since high school. Charles followed her career and continued to watch Jones at George Washington and now with the Sun.
There’s no one player that Charles hopes to play against, but she is looking forward to playing against all of the players she looked up to growing up.
“I’ve watched all these stars growing up and idolized a lot of these players that are still playing and so just being able to play against them and learn from them is something that I’ve always dreamed of doing. And so I’m excited to play anybody because I know it’s just going to be very competitive and it’s going to be a challenge and I love challenges,” Charles said.
She named a few of her favorite players including Candace Parker, Elena Delle Donne, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Breanna Stewart.
Despite not knowing when her first WNBA training camp will start Charles is still dedicated to working on herself, both mentally and physically.
To keep herself in shape physically she has been running around her house, doing cardio and bodyweight workouts, and working on her shot at an outdoor court near her house.
“I know that once things clear up and things go back to normal, I’m gonna have to go right to Connecticut. So I want to make sure that I’m prepared,” Charles said.
To stay in shape mentally she has been reading books and studying her bible to make sure she’s ready mentally for the next level.
When speaking about her conversations with head coach and general manager Curt Miller, Charles said, “He was basically saying that he could see me fit into the system because I’m very versatile. And I could play multiple positions.”
Charles appreciated Miller and the Sun drafting her because he told her he saw her going in the first round and while it was unlikely that they would be able to draft her.
She said she’s excited to be “going to a program where I’m going to be valued as a person, not just the player. They didn’t just pick me up because I was the best player at that time. They actually appreciate my game and they can see my potential. This gives me a lot of confidence because they believe in me before I even step on the court and play for them.”
Charles acknowledged that she has much to improve on, but is devoted to continue to work to earn her spot on the Sun’s roster.
She addressed the concerns about the lack of three-point range she displayed at Maryland, citing it was the system she played in and where she was played, but is confident in her abilities.
“I played mostly the four position, my college career … It’s not like I don’t have a three-point shot. I’m working on getting a whole bunch of shots, hundreds of shots every single day. I’m making sure it’s consistent, but I think the type of system and how she [Brenda Frese] wanted to play me was that just didn’t fit how she wanted to play. So yeah, it’s something that I’ve always been working on and something I’m going to be adding to my game, moving to this next level because I’ll be more of a guard. So I’m excited to show everybody what I can do,” Charles said.
Landrum spent draft night at her mom’s house. She said her mom saw her name on TV before Landrum did, then jumped up and gave her a hug.
Her dad reacted similarly and hugged her and told her, “this all just paid off. I’m so proud of you.”
She is currently struggling to exercise while at home because the rims on the hoops near her house were taken down. Instead she’s been jogging and doing bodyweight workouts,
“It’s kind of hard. You want to go outside and dribble a ball or shoot. So it’s pretty tough,” she said.
Landrum is most looking forward to playing with DeWanna Bonner after having watched her for the last several years. She’s also looking forward to playing against Candace Parker who was her favorite player growing up.
In her short pre-Draft conversation with Miller they discussed the fact the she would be expected to come into Connecticut and play her role, something Landum believes she can succeed at because she did the same thing at Baylor.
“Doing what a coach needs me to do And trying my best to do it. Don’t over do it,” she said.
While Landrum knows very little about Connecticut, having been there just twice, both times to play UConn. “I’m hoping to, you know, come there, meet new people and meet new fans,” she said.
Several Sun players have reached out to Landrum, only making her more excited to meet her new teammates and coaches.
Landrum knows she’ll have to adapt as well as she did in college, “Now in the pros is the same thing you have to adapt to the new face, you know, to work out, you know, being on the road all the time or you know, Have a game after game so trying to adjust is not the same as college but I try my best to adjust to know the things I have to adjust to.
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