Jones, Ionescu will participate in Skills Challenge

CHICAGO — Jonquel Jones from the Connecticut Sun, Rhyne Howard of the Atlanta Dream, sabrina ionscu of the New York Liberty and Courtney Vandersloot The Chicago Sky headline the eight-player roster that will participate in Saturday’s Skills Challenge as part of the WNBA All-Star Weekend, the league said Friday.

Jones was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2021. Ionescu and Howard were the first draft picks in 2020 and 2022, respectively, and are making their first All-Star game. Ionescu is coming off his second triple-double of the season on Wednesday and the third of his career.

Vandersloot is the longest tenured player on the Chicago Sky, which won the WNBA title last season and is hosting the All-Star Game for the first time. She has led the league in assists six times, including the last five years in a row.

The Skills Challenge and 3-point contest (participants were announced Thursday) will take place at McCormick Place in front of participants from the Nike Tournament of Champions and Nike Girls Nationals. The Skills Challenge will have eight teams comprised of a WNBA player and an Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) athlete participating in the 2022 Nike Nationals. Teams will compete head-to-head in a hurdle relay race that puts test dribbling, passing, agility and shooting skills.

The other WNBA players in the Skills Challenge are the shooting guards from Las Vegas, Kelsey Plum Y Jackie Youngthe Indiana forward NaLyssa Smith and the Chicago wing, azur stevens. Plum and Howard also compete in the 3-point contest.

Both events will be televised beginning at 3 pm ET on Saturday on ESPN.

On Friday, the league also announced three special rules for Sunday’s All-Star Game (1 pm ET, ABC) at Wintrust Arena.

There will be a 4-point shot available, with four circles, two at each end of the court, above the current 3-point line 28 feet from the rim. Any basket made by a player who makes contact with one of those circles when attempting the shot will be credited as 4 points. The shot clock will be reduced to 20 seconds from the standard 24, but the reset after an offensive rebound will remain at 14. And automatic points will be awarded for free throws, rather than the player actually shooting them. The only time players will physically attempt a free throw will be during the last 2 minutes of the fourth quarter and during the entirety of overtime periods.

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Jones, Ionescu will participate in Skills Challenge