Former UConn Star Maya Moore to Skip ’19 WNBA Season - NBC Connecticut
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Former UConn Star Maya Moore to Skip ’19 WNBA Season

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    Minnesota Lynx’s Maya Moore plays in the first quarter during Game 5 of the WNBA basketball finals against the Los Angeles Sparks Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016, in Minneapolis.

    Former University of Connecticut and Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore announced Tuesday that she is stepping away from professional basketball this season.

    She already had taken the fall and winter off from international competition. The five-time first-team All-WNBA honoree has helped the Lynx win four championships since her rookie year, 2011.

    In a post in The Players’ Tribune, Moore said she won’t play in the 2019 WNBA season. Instead, she said she plans to focus on family and faith.

    “My focus in 2019 will not be on professional basketball, but will instead be on the people in my family, as well as on investing my time in some ministry dreams that have been stirring in my heart for many years,” she wrote.

    Raised by a single mother with strong Christian beliefs, Moore has spoken often about her desire for a well-rounded life steered by biblical principles. She quoted from scripture in her brief essay and, without citing specifics, said she plans to invest time in "some ministry dreams that have been stirring in my heart for many years."

    Reforming the justice system has been a particular passion of hers, including a personal interest she has taken in the case of Jonathan Irons, who was imprisoned in Missouri in 1997 by what his supporters contend was a wrongful burglary conviction at age 16.

    Lync Head Coach and General Manager Cheryl Reeve released a statement on Moore’s announcement.

    “As she recently shared, Maya has expressed a need to shift her attention more fully to family and ministry dreams in a way that she has been unable to as a professional basketball player. We support her in this exploration and will continue to provide her the love and care she has always known from her Lynx family.”

    Moore, who went to high school in the Atlanta area she now calls home, was given the franchise tag last month by the Lynx, preventing her from becoming a free agent. The 29-year-old, who won the WNBA Most Valuable Player award in 2014, expressed her fatigue -- and her eagerness for some extended rest -- near the end of the 2018 season, which saw the Lynx ousted in the first round of the playoffs. The league compressed the 34-game schedule by three weeks from the 2017 slate.

    Moore was the top vote-getter for the All-Star game last summer in Minnesota, but she passed on the team captain responsibility that would have required her to draft from the 22-player pool. Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks took her place, joining Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics in assembling the sides. Moore had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the exhibition to earn her third straight All-Star Game MVP award.

    Moore also opted out of the Women's Basketball World Cup, the first major event she wasn't on the U.S. national team for since the 2008 Summer Olympics, which took place before the start of her sophomore season at powerhouse Connecticut.

    The Lynx, too, are in flux following the retirement of five-time All-Star point guard Lindsay Whalen, who became coach at her alma mater, Minnesota. They start their season May 25 against Chicago.

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