WBB Honors Sun Devil Great Briann January
The Arizona State Sun Devils athletics program has had many outstanding and accomplished athletes throughout its history. On the top of that list is current WNBA superstar Briann January, who left a lasting legacy as one of the best basketball players at Arizona State and as an assistant coach.
This season the Sun Devil women's basketball program will honor January with a ceremony that places her jersey number in the rafters of Desert Financial Arena permanently.
"I am incredibly thrilled that we finally get to honor Briann January's jersey in Desert Financial Arena," said head coach Charli Turner Thorne. "Briann is one of the most decorated players to come out of this program, and she is beyond deserving of this honor. During her time as a Sun Devil, she helped elevate our program to elite prominence and helped make incredible runs in the NCAA tournament."
January arrived in Tempe to play for the Sun Devils in 2005 and did not miss a beat. As a freshman, she made an immediate impact leading the team in steals and assists, and was named to the 2006 Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.
Even with all the hype leading into her sophomore year, she surely did not disappoint. Starting all 34 games for the Sun Devils that season, she earned All Pac-10 honorable mention recognition for her outstanding play on the court.
As an upperclassman, January's exceptional performance on the court continued to turn heads across the college basketball world. The Pac-10 added a defensive player of the year honor prior to the 2007-08 season and January was named the recipient of the award in its first two years of existence (2008 and 2009). She was also awarded for her all-around play and was named to the 2008 All-Pac-10 Second Team and the 2009 All-Pac-10 First Team.
Not only did January's impressive play translate to the stat sheet, but she also helped the Sun Devils reach new heights during her tenure. In her four years at ASU, the Sun Devils made the NCAA tournament every year. In 2007 and 2009, January was able to lead her team all the way to the Elite Eight, the furthest the program had ever gone in the Big Dance.
This victorious attitude was contagious while January was in Tempe. Winning 77-percent of their games, the Sun Devils had a 104-32 record from 2006-2009. While ASU cruised through the Pac-10, January broke the program record for most career assists and was the only player in school history to lead the team in steals and assists for four-straight years.
January's spectacular college resume and hard work ultimately led to her being selected sixth overall in the 2009 WNBA draft by the Indiana Fever. In her 13 years in the WNBA, January played for the Fever, Phoenix Mercury, and the Connecticut Sun.
In her first season playing on the professional level, January helped lead the Fever to an appearance in the WNBA Finals. January and her Fever teammates would go on to capture the franchise's only WNBA title in 2021. In 2015, January made her third appearance with the Fever in the WNBA Finals. Her decorated professional career has included being named to the WNBA All-Defensive First Team five times and in 2014 – the same year the WNBA All-Star Game was played in US Airways Center in Phoenix – January was selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star squad.
Despite still playing professionally, on April 19, 2017, January decided to give back to her alma mater and took an assistant coaching job on Turner Thorne's staff. During her tenure as an assistant coach, January was a part of two winning seasons and helped develop several All-Conference players. In 2019, the Sun Devils returned to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.
"Beyond basketball, Briann has done everything the 'Sun Devil Way.' She spent countless hours in the community, enjoyed spending time with our donor group and fan base, and was an incredible teammate & leader. There was no doubt in my mind that Briann would go on to have a great professional career – both in the WNBA and overseas," said Turner Thorne.
While January has played for many different teams throughout her career, she will always remain a true Sun Devil at heart!
"Friday, November 12, 2021, will be a monumental day for our Sun Devil women's basketball program, and we cannot wait to share it with Sun Devil Nation," said Turner Thorne.