June 23, 2020
Angel McCoughtry, Emma Meesseman opt-in for shortened WNBA season in Bradenton, Florida
As the 2020 WNBA season edges closer, players' decisions keep rolling in.
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Uncasville, Connecticut/USA – July 17, 2018: Atlanta Dream forward Angel McCoughtry (35) shooting a free throw during a WNBA basketball game between the Atlanta Dream and the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Atlanta Dream defeated the Connecticut Sun 86-83. Photo Credit: Chris Poss
Las Vegas Aces veteran guard Angel McCoughtry and 2019 WNBA Finals MVP Emma Meesseman have decided that they will be making the trip to Bradenton, Florida for the WNBA’s shortened season which begins next month.
Last week, the WNBA announced that it plans to have a shortened, 22-game season followed by traditional playoffs at IMG Academy with a reported start date of July 24. No fans will be allowed at the games, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said she plans to be on-site during the season and many questions still remain.
According to the New York Times, more than 2,317,700 people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 120,200 have died. The state of Florida, where the WNBA, NBA, and MLS plan to have their shortened seasons, has seen an increase in the number of cases, reporting 2,926 new cases on Monday morning.
Additionally, since George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police on May 25, protests for social justice and change have taken place all across the country, with many WNBA players advocating for Black communities, marching in protests, and making their voices heard. The Atlanta Dream’s Renee Montgomery announced that she would be sitting out the 2020 season to fight for social justice reform while Erica Wheeler of the Indiana Fever told Bleacher Report’s Arielle Chambers that she will “absolutely” play in Florida.
“Basketball saved my life,” Wheeler told Chambers on Instagram Live. “Without basketball, I don’t know what I’d be doing, honestly.”
McCoughtry announced her decision in an Instagram post, writing that she is, “Looking forward to continue to fight social injustice issues while playing and supporting front line workers.”
This offseason, McCoughtry left the Atlanta Dream after 10 seasons with the team to join the star-studded Aces. The veteran did not play in 2019 after tearing her ACL in 2018 and undergoing a second surgery on her knee.
While many international and American WNBA players are still weighing their decisions to play this year, amidst the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic and the important social justice work that still needs to be done in the U.S. to protect Black lives, Meesseman will lace up for the Washington Mystics this summer, Bullets Forever reported Monday. And according to the bookies, the reigning champions look most likely to repeat last season’s success in Bradenton.
Indiana Fever rookie Julia Allemand will also be leaving Belgium to come to the U.S. to play this season, according to Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.