Scottsdale Independent

Phoenix Mercury get former Arizona State standout Briann January in trade

The Phoenix Mercury’s promotional poster welcoming Briann January to the team. (Submitted Photo)

The Phoenix Mercury acquired Briann January from the Indiana Fever in exchange for the eighth-overall pick of the 2018 WNBA Draft.

January was a four-year standout at Arizona State University and this season joined Charli Turner-Thorne’s coaching staff as an assistant. She was part of the 2012 WNBA champion Fever, a 2014 WNBA All-Star and six-time WNBA All-Defensive team selection, according to a press release.

“Briann is a difference-maker in our league,” Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman said in a prepared statement.

“We’ve seen her have success guarding the best-scoring guards and wings on the biggest stage, and we’ve seen her run a team as an All-Star-caliber point guard. We are excited to add perhaps the best women’s player in the history of Arizona State University to our roster.”

Originally the sixth overall selection in the 2009 WNBA Draft by the Fever, the 5-8, 144-pound January has reached the WNBA Finals three times in her nine-year career, including once as a rookie.

January’s teams have qualified for the playoffs eight times in her nine seasons, including five appearances in the conference finals, now the semifinals, and the three finals trips.

She has played her best on the biggest stages — she owns career regular season averages of 9 points per game, 3.6 assists per game and 1.1 steals per game. Those numbers inflate to averages of 10.7 ppg, 3.9 apg and 1.1 spg in 44 career playoff games.

January built her reputation on hard-nosed defense, and is the only WNBA player who has been named to either the league’s All-Defensive First or Second team in each of the past six seasons.

She has also made herself into a top 3-point shooter, leading the league in 3-point percentage (43.1 percent) in 2015 and shooting a 36.9-percent clip for her career.

Her nine-year tenure with Indiana saw her average of 3.6 assists per game, the highest in franchise history and ninth-best among active WNBA players.

She is one of only four active players in the league averaging at least 3.6 apg and shooting above 36 percent from 3-point range, joining Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Maya Moore.

While at Arizona State, January was a two-time Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year and an All-Pac 10 First Team selection.

She finished her career as the program’s all-time leader in assists (538) and free throw percentage (83 percent), while ranking second in steals (272) and free throws (401), fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (39.9 perecent) and fifth in 3-point field goals (132).

She set the school’s single-season record for 3-point field goals made (65) during her senior year and is the only player in school history to lead the team in steals and assists four-straight years.

WNBA all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi and 2017 WNBA scoring champion Brittney Griner return to Phoenix this summer to lead the Mercury in a quest for the franchise’s WNBA-record tying fourth championship.