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Former UConn women’s star signs with Las Vegas Aces after retiring from Connecticut Sun in December

Less than six months after announcing her retirement from the WNBA, former UConn standout and Connecticut Sun starter Tiffany Hayes reversed course to sign with the Las Vegas Aces on Friday.

Hayes won two national championships at UConn from 2008-2012, earning first team All-Big East honors in her junior season. She is one of 16 players in program history to log at least 1,800 points in her career and ranks third all-time in games played with 154 appearances. The 5-foot-10 guard was drafted No. 14 overall by the Atlanta Dream in 2012 and went on to play 10 seasons with the franchise, earning her lone All-Star selection in 2017 and receiving All-WNBA first team honors in 2018.

Hayes started all 40 games in her lone season with the Sun in 2023, averaging 12.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists shooting 47.6% from the field. She originally announced her retirement on the “Counted Me Out” podcast on Dec. 13, but she was never officially labeled as voluntarily retired by the WNBA. Hayes played overseas in China during the offseason.

“I really feel like I’m older now. I’ve got a lot of stuff that I really always wanted to get into, but I’m so busy because I’m playing year-round,” Hayes said on the podcast in December. “Plus my body, playing 11 seasons straight with no breaks, every year, two seasons in a year every time, that’s a lot. I just figured I’d focus on one thing and then summertime, I can turn up my businesses, turn up time with my family, and just live like that. I want to see how that goes.”

Sun coach Stephanie White, who played in the WNBA from 1999-2004, said she understood Hayes’ decision to sign with the Aces, especially considering the unique resources that the reigning WNBA champions provide to their players. Las Vegas has its own facility for practices and games, and the entire 12-player roster signed sponsorship deals for $100,000 with the city’s Convention and Visitors Authority on May 18. In Connecticut, the Sun rent practice space from the Mohegan Tribe’s community center, and the arena at Mohegan Sun is shared with assorted performances and events held at the casino. The Aces are also back-to-back league champions, led by two-time MVP A’ja Wilson.

“I’m excited for her to be back in the league. Disappointed for us, of course, but excited for her,” White said. “I think, being somebody who’s been a player in this league, understanding that you’ve got veteran players who want opportunities to continue to compete and want to benefit from some of the things that that teams are able to provide for them now, I certainly get that.”

White said she did not hear from Hayes prior to the news of her return, but she was unsure whether the veteran guard communicated with the Connecticut front office about her decision.

Hayes will go head-to-head with the Sun on June 21 when the Sun face the Aces in Las Vegas, then will make her return to Connecticut in a rematch Sept. 6 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

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