February 14, 2023
Athletes Unlimited Basketball: Week 1 includes Cloud, Williams as captains
Pokey Chatman, Seimone Augustus among the facilitators
There will be a plethora of talent showcased in the second season of Athletes Unlimited (AU) Basketball. Season 2 will take place at the Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas, TX, from Feb. 23 to March 26. The roster has been finalized and the captains for Week 1 have been named. DiJonai Carrington, Natasha Cloud, Odyssey Sims and Courtney Williams. The final leaderboard standings from 2022 determined the captains for the start of Season 2. The draft will take place on Feb. 19 at 12 pm ET and will be streamed on the AU’s Youtube channel.
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There will be 24 athletes competing in the AU format for the first time and 21 athletes return with one year of AU experience under their belt. The roster includes standouts like Cloud, Allisha Gray, Isabelle Harrison, Sims and Essence Carson. The captains are set up for success every week because of the options available to put together a combination of players that only has to dominate for one week.
Carrington went 3-0 as a captain and finished in seventh place individually in Season 1. The Connecticut Sun guard averaged 6.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game in her second season in the WNBA. With all of the moves made by the Sun in free agency and her AU experience, she will have more of an opportunity to grow and continue to improve her game.
Cloud is a member of AU’s Basketball Player Executive Committee and finished second on the leaderboard last season. She led AU in assists, dishing out 133 and went 5-7 as a captain last season. The 5’9 guard also led the WNBA in assists, averaging 7 per game for the Washington Mystics.
Sims finished sixth on the 2022 leaderboard and was the third-leading scorer for AU, averaging 20.7 points per game. She went 1-5 as a captain in the inaugural season. The Texas native played for two teams in her ninth season in the WNBA. She was waived by the Minnesota Lynx in mid-May. She was later picked up by the Connecticut Sun, where she was able to compete in the WNBA Finals, losing to the Las Vegas Aces 1-3.
Williams finished ninth on the 2022 leaderboard after missing Week 1 last season. She averaged 15.5 points per game and will be a captain in AU for the first time. The guard averaged 12.7 points in the WNBA Finals last season. She is another player that has benefited from playing in AU as part of her preparation for the WNBA instead of having to compete overseas.
AU is a player-driven league where they get to make all of the executive decisions. The athletes will still be assisted by some heavy hitters as facilitators. Pokey Chatman and Danielle Viglione are returning for their second year with the league. Carlos Knox, Zak Buncik, and Seimone Augustus will be first-time facilitators for Season 2.
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The teams play three games per week, most available on WNBA League Pass. Hall of Famer Sheryl Swoopes returns as color analyst and will be joined by play-by-play announcer Cindy Brunson.
In AU, the athletes have a chance to be successful on a team and individually. After the draft, the teams will have three days to come together and create a game plan. Week 1 could be the most interesting as the athletes will get their first glimpse of which players mesh well together.
Written by Arie Graham
Arie Graham joined 'The Next' in May 2021 as the beat writer for the Dallas Wings.
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