June 25, 2022 

EuroLeague offseason updates: Italy is stocking up on talent

Italian clubs are building strong sides for the 2022-23 season — and will Breanna Stewart play in Italy, too?

We are still waiting for Breanna Stewart to make a final decision on signing with the Italian team Virtus Bologna for next season (more on this later). But whatever ends up happening with Stewart, Italy will be the center of EuroLeague women’s basketball next season.

Last week’s post mentioned the rumors about Amanda Zahui B. leaving Fenerbahçe to join Famila Schio, and those rumors were officially confirmed right as the post was published. In addition, Rhyne Howard, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, is following Zahui B. to Famila Schio next season. That’s what you call a landscape-changing transaction, folks.

The additions of Zahui B. and Howard are the cherry on top of Famila Schio’s championship-or-bust project. The club also added Astou Ndour-Fall and Marina Mabrey, as I reported last week. Schio is coming off of an Italian championship after defeating Virtus Bologna 3-1.

Meanwhile, Bologna has already boosted its roster by adding Kitija Laksa from Schio, signing Iliana Rupert and re-signing Cecilia Zandalasini as it waits for Stewart’s final decision.

Speaking of Stewart, The Next‘s Em Adler had a chance to talk with the Seattle Storm wing this week. Stewart left Russian side UMMC Ekaterinburg prior to last season while recovering from injury, and amid the rumors about her potential signing with Virtus Bologna, it made sense to ask Stewart about them.

“Right now, I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on overseas with teams in Europe,” Stewart told The Next. “Obviously, Russia’s out of the equation, and [I’m] just trying to see what happens.”

The connection between Stewart and Bologna is that new Bologna head coach Miguel Méndez previously coached Stewart at UMMC Ekaterinburg. “I think Miguel and I have a good connection,” Stewart said. “So if we’re able to share the court again together, it would be amazing.”

Then, Stewart added with a smile, “I heard Italy’s very nice.” You bet it is.


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Jonquel Jones signs with Çukurova Basketbol

Connecticut Sun forward Jonquel Jones has decided where she’ll play basketball next winter. After playing in Russia with UMMC Ekaterinburg last season, Jones is signing with Turkish side Çukurova Basketbol.

Jones, a veteran in the W and overseas, is in the middle of her prime, as her WNBA Most Valuable Player award from last year proves. Though this will be Jones’ first time playing in Istanbul, Jones has already played one season in South Korea, one season in China and four seasons in Russia. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine pretty much forced every international player out of Russia — including Jones — she decided to look for other places to play next season.

Although Çukurova Basketbol was only founded in 2017, it is very well established in Turkey, having won a Turkish Cup title this season and finished second in the Turkish Super League three years ago. A lot of the best players to play in Europe have appeared in its lineups, including imports such as Ndour-Fall, Brittney Sykes, Chelsea Gray, Diamond DeShields, Alex Bentley, Jasmine Thomas, DeWanna Bonner and Shavonte Zellous. Jones will become the latest to join that talented group after the 2022 WNBA season.

Moriah Jefferson will strengthen Perfumerias Avenida’s backcourt

After saying goodbye to the Samuelson sisters, Emese Hof and the greatest player in the history of the club in Kahleah Copper, Avenida has already moved on by signing Moriah Jefferson from the Minnesota Lynx for the 2022-23 season.

The combo guard, in her prime at age 28, has been a legit star since arriving at UConn to play college basketball in 2012. Just look at her resume: four titles in four seasons with the Huskies. That helped Jefferson’s stock prior to a 2016 WNBA Draft in which she was drafted second overall by the San Antonio Stars.

This season, Jefferson was waived by the Dallas Wings in May, only to sign with Minnesota four days later. She’s played and started 12 games for the Lynx while averaging 13.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. Jefferson won’t be new to overseas basketball, as she spent two seasons in Turkey playing for Galatasaray, though she has yet to medal in any European club competition. Signing with Perfumerias Avenida will surely make that a more attainable goal.

The Next’s Em Adler contributed reporting to this story.

Written by Antonio Losada

International freelance writer covering the WNBA overseas. Bylines at places, touching different bases. Always open to discussion over @chapulana || Full portfolio

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