In the WNBA, most players are overseas during the NBA season so it's easy to forget that it's often these leagues where many of their players are making more money. In some cases, the season in the winter is the "real women's basketball season" given the low pay here in America.
Before talking about how the players are doing, I'll first talk about how European basketball works. It's a lot like the system with European soccer and men's basketball leagues.
Domestic Leagues vs. European Leagues
Every team plays in its domestic league in whatever country the team is in. For example, France has a league, Italy has a league, the Czech Republic has one, and Russia too. If there are no additional, lower-tier leagues in that country, there is no risk of a poorly-performing team being relegated to a lower-tier league.
The best teams in the top leagues of each top-performing country are given invitations to EuroLeague Women. There are 16 teams in this division.
The next tier of teams in the country leagues perform in EuroCup Women. There are 32 teams in this tier who play in the group stage. There is a tournament of the top 16 EuroCup teams who play for four bids in an eight-team tournament. In the eight-team tournament, the top four EuroLeague Women teams who didn't make their eight-team playoff will join this tourney instead. Poor EuroCup teams may find themselves out of any continental tourneys the next season.
If a EuroLeague Women team does not perform well in its own league, it can be relegated to EuroCup the next season. Conversely, if a EuroCup Women team wins its country's title, it may be promoted to EuroLeague the next year.
How Mystics players are doing overseas
I'm not going to write much more on Meesseman here in fairness to the rest of the players on the roster.
We've given a lot of attention to her over the last couple months, but it's well deserved. She led the Belgian national team to some huge wins last week. And she was transferred to European superclub UMMC Ekaterinburg as that club gears up for the EuroLeague Women playoffs. Click on those links above to read how she's performing in Russia and in the FIBA Europe stage.
Team: Edirne Bld. Edirnespor, KBSL (Turkey), EuroCup
How's her team? 5-14 or 12th in the KBSL out of 14 teams, lost in the first round of the EuroCup playoffs.
Stats: 13.6 PPG and 7.7 RPG in the KBSL. She also shot 3-10 from three.
The Skinny: Dolson is the starting center for Edirnespor and is playing plenty of minutes (32.1 minutes a game) in the KBSL alongside Mystics teammate Ivory Latta who I will get to next.
However, the team is not doing well domestically as you can see. To be fair, the top three teams in the league have more WNBA-level talent.
First place Fenerbahce has three WNBA players in the starting lineup (Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky, Jantel Lavender of the Los Angeles Sparks, and Marissa Coleman of the Indiana Fever).
Second place Hatay BSB has Courtney Paris of the Dallas Wings, plus former WNBA player Barbara Turner and Australian point guard Natalie Hurst.
Third place Mersin has WNBA superstar Angel McCoughtry, Aneika Henry, and some familiar guard you know named Bria Hartley. We'll talk about her later.
So I won't be too hard on Dolson for not leading Edirne to more wins. But statistically, it's good to see that she is playing at a high level overseas and this should carry over into next season.
Team: Edirne Bld. Edirnespor, KBSL (Turkey), EuroCup. See Dolson's section on how they're doing.
Stats: 17.5 PPG and 4.5 APG in the KBSL
The Skinny: The good news is that Latta is also playing extended minutes and producing at a high level statistically. Given this, it's clear that she is Edirne's number one option on offense, just like she was in Washington over the last few seasons.
But that last statement's also a problem.
Though it's good to see that Latta can put up great numbers any night, I will also state that Latta must defer to Meesseman more this summer. I will even go so far to say that Latta is a roadblock for her development into the Mystics' number one option.
It doesn't stop there, though.
Unfortunately, Latta is also a roadblock for all of the Mystics' guards not named Kara Lawson. It's because of the same reason why I wanted Crystal Langhorne out of Washington back in the 2012-2013 offseason: Latta isn't going to be a long-term solution for the Mystics and there are many young guards who figure to be long term pieces AND need more time to develop.
I'm not hating on Latta's skills, and I like her to be honest. She's the WNBA's best three-point shooter and she averages three made three-pointers a game in the KBSL. She also has a nice crossover.
But either way, I'd rather use her as a trade chip for more draft picks and allow other guards to develop than keep her long-term at this point.
Team: Mersin BSH BLD, KBSL (Turkey)
How's her team? 14-5 or 3rd in the KBSL
Stats: 14.2 PPG and 4.3 APG in the KBSL. She is averaging 42.9 percent of her shots from the field, and made 30-95 three pointers.
The Skinny: Mersin was 8-18 last year in the KBSL and isn't in any European league. They have revamped their team by signing WNBA superstar Angel McCoughtry who averages 25 points a game and Dream teammate Aneika Henry who averages 15.7 points and 11.1 rebounds a game.
But I don't care about McCoughtry and Henry. I care about Hartley.
Hartley has had the strongest offseason of the Mystics' young players given that she is making her shots at a good rate. She probably won't be like Latta from three, but it's nice to see that she is not hesitating to take and make deep shots. I am a bit concerned that she averages nearly three turnovers a game.
Ultimately, it's great to see that Hartley, McCoughtry, and Henry have played a major part in Mersin's turnaround in the 2015-16 season.
Hartley is primed for a bounceback third-year in D.C. But I don't know if she will get enough minutes to thrive in what probably will be a crowded backcourt rotation, unless she's traded to another team. (God I hope that doesn't happen).
Team: Abdullah Gul University Kayseri, KBSL (Turkey)
How's her team? 13-6 in the KBSL (4th), 3-9 in EuroLeague Women, EuroCup Women quarterfinalist
Stats: 15.8 ppg and 9.1 RPG, 1.5 BPG in the KBSL. She is averaging 51.6 percent of her shots from the field.
The Skinny: Sanders is the starting power forward for Abdullah Gul, so I was a little surprised that she re-signed with the Mystics despite knowing the fact that Emma Meesseman will be starting ahead of her barring an injury or if she doesn't want to stay in Washington.... or if ... she likes being "passive and complacent Emma" more.
If that happens, the good news is that Thibault has another player who is used to being more assertive from the get go.
Sanders is the number one option on her team, and she has a number of notable WNBA teammates like Connecticut Sun point guard Chelsea Gray and former WNBA center Janel McCarville. She also plays on Turkey's national team and is a starter for them.
Therefore, this sounds kinda wicked, but maybe the low post positions aren't as set in stone long-term as we would like to believe. That's the only thing that makes sense to me now that Sanders figures to be in Washington for years to come.
Team: Botasspor Adana, KBSL (Turkey)
How's her team? 8-11 in the KBSL (9th)
Stats: 7.4 ppg and 4.4 RPG, 1.5 BPG in the KBSL. She is averaging 44.4 percent of her shots from the field.
The Skinny: Malott has played seven games for the Turkish club. She was drafted as a potential stretch four but is averaging less than 20 percent from deep. Not good.
Team: Orduspor, KBSL (Turkey), EuroCup Women
How's her team? 4-15 in the KBSL (14th), 4-2 in EuroCup Group Play, lost in first round of the playoffs
Stats: 14.4 PPG, 1.9 APG in the KBSL. She is averaging 42.1 percent of her shots from the field.
The Skinny: Ruffin-Pratt was a midseason edition to this club after spending much of the late fall stateside. The most important thing to keep an eye on is her shooting percentage. She has yet to average more than 40 percent shooting from the field and is doing so on her international team.
But if there's one reason to partially explain why Orduspor is performing poorly in the KBSL though it also was a EuroCup team, Chicago Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot started the season here but was transferred to Gelistirenler S.K. midseason, since her name shows up on Orduspor's stats this season.
Team: USK Praha, ZBL (Czech Republic), EuroLeague Women
How's her team? 10-0 in the ZBL, 8-6 in EuroLeague Group Play, team in the quarterfinals
Stats: 10.3 PPG and 4.1 APG in the ZBL. She is averaging 56.1 percent of her shots from the field there. She is averaging 12.9 PPG and 9.1 RPG in the EuroLeague.
The Skinny: Vaughn won the EuroLeague Women Final Four MVP award last season as her team won all of EuroLeague by upsetting UMMC in last year's championship game, 72-68. This season, she isn't playing too many minutes domestically because she's being utilized more for the EuroLeague matches.
With Dolson holding the starting center position because Vaughn was injured to start last season, I wonder what the future holds for her. Either way, it's good to see that she is continuing to perform well overseas.
Team: She played three games for Aluinvent DVTK Miskolc in the Hungarian A Division and EuroCup
How's her team? 11-4 in the Hungarian A Division, 6-0 in EuroCup Group Play, team in the quarterfinals
Stats: 14.5 PPG and 4 RPG in A Division play.
The Skinny: According to Borsod Online (in Hungarian), Hill left the team in late January. Like Ruffin-Pratt, Hill started her offseason in the US but signed with DVTK Miskolc after the new year. Though she had a nice bounceback season in 2015, Hill could use more time playing overseas to get more experience and hopefully show that she can be a starter sooner rather than later.
Other players who I didn't mention
Natasha Cloud played a couple games with Besiktas in the KBSL in the fall, but suffered an injury and came back stateside.
Kara Lawson doesn't play overseas because she gives color commentary on basketball games on our side of the pond. She's also damn good at it.