The Washington Mystics’ 2019 season is over, but most of the roster is already committed to playing overseas. Seven players will play for teams in other countries, whether in Europe or Asia. Here they are below, according to Winsidr.com;
- Ariel Atkins — Perth Lynx (WNBL, Australia)
- Natasha Cloud — Zhejiang Golden Bulls (WCBA, China)
- Myisha Hines-Allen — Bucheon KEB Hana Bank (WKBL, Korea)
- Emma Meesseman — UMMC Ekaterinburg (PBL and EuroLeague Women, Russia)
- Kim Mestdagh — Flammes Carolo (LFB and EuroCup Women, France)
- Aerial Powers — Will play in China’s WCBA, but no team listed yet
- Shatori Walker-Kimbrough — DVTK Miskolc (NB I/A and EuroCup Women, Hungary)
There isn’t much surprise that Meesseman and Mestdagh, Washington’s European natives, are playing overseas. Also, it isn’t much of a surprise that some of the team’s younger players like Atkins and Walker-Kimbrough are also playing overseas. Cloud is going overseas for the first time in a couple seasons, if I recall correctly.
Besides money, why would players go overseas?
One of the primary reasons why WNBA players go overseas is because they will have a chance to play in larger roles than they do on their teams here in the United States. Internal practices can only develop a player so much.
You can expect Atkins to be one of the Lynx’s (the AUSTRALIAN TEAM that is!) primary options. Cloud, Hines-Allen and Walker-Kimbrough will either be the primary options or close to it on their overseas team. And Mestdagh would be a starter for Flammes as well as opposed to being the 12th woman.
In Meesseman’s case, she will be a regular starter for UMMC. But she probably won’t be the leading scorer given that there are numerous WNBA All-Stars on the team like Brittney Griner among others.
What is EuroLeague Women vs. EuroCup Women?
As you may have seen with Mystics players going to Europe, their teams often play in two leagues. Teams play domestically in a national league. For example, Russia plays in the PBL against the best teams just in Russia.
Like the UEFA Champions League and Europa League in men’s soccer, EuroLeague Women is the first tier competition for continental play and EuroCup is the second tier. Teams have to win their domestic leagues so they can play in next year’s EuroLeague Women. The next batch of teams perform in EuroCup Women.
In 2016, I had a three-part Q&A with FIBA’s Paul Nilsen. He is one of the best writers on the international women’s basketball scene which covered how EuroLeague and EuroCup Women work in greater detail, and how the WNBA can work better with Europe among other topics.
Who will not play overseas?
Like last season, the Mystics’ veteran All-Star duo of Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver won’t play.
Delle Donne is recovering from back spasms she suffered during the WNBA Finals. She will also not participate in the USA Basketball women’s national team’s NCAA tour in November.
As announced by her agent Erin Kane, Elena Delle Donne will not be participating in USA Basketball’s four exhibition games in November as she continues to recover from her back injury suffered in the WNBA Finals.#TogetherDC #MonumentalBasketball #DCFamily— BF_Mystics (@BF_mystics) October 22, 2019
In Toliver’s case, she is still a player development assistant coach for the Wizards. So we’ll see her on the Wizards’ bench. And you never know, she may write a comment or two as well after practice!
In addition, Tianna Hawkins and LaToya Sanders haven’t said anything yet about playing overseas. They didn’t play overseas last season, so it’s unlikely they will this year as well.
Kiara Leslie missed the 2019 WNBA season due to injury, so it will be interesting to see whether she tries to go overseas later, but there are no reports of her doing this yet.