Athletes Unlimited Week One Preview
Season two of Athletes Unlimited Basketball kicks off today at Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas, Texas. After a successful inaugural season in Las Vegas, 21 players return, along with the addition of incredible new talent. “I think that we have more depth this season in our talent from top to bottom in the league,” said Sydney Colson.
This talent was on full display during the preseason scrimmages held last week. AU rookie NaLyssa Smith erupted for a pair of double-double performances, putting up 18 points and 14 rebounds in the first scrimmage, and 27 points and 14 rebounds in the second.
Odyssey Sims averaged 30 points per game and is headed into the first week as captain of the orange team. With her first pick of the draft, Sims selected Kelsey Mitchell, who finished season one 11th on the leaderboard and averaged 25.5 points per game in the preseason scrimmages. Team Sims will be taking on team Williams for the first game of the week. Courtney Williams finished last season ninth on the leaderboard but will be acting as captain for the first time in her Athletes Unlimited career. Williams' stint as captain during scrimmages has already drawn praise from teammates.
“I’ve always seen good leadership skills in her and now seeing her as a captain, she really just stepped into that role,” said Layshia Clarendon, who Williams selected in the third round of the draft. “She’s a really smart player and you might not always get to see that in the W season and maybe overseas. So what’s so unique about AU is that it’s player led and you don’t get that opportunity in any other league.”
The second game of the day will feature another first-time captain, Taj Cole, going up against Natasha Cloud who is entering her fifth consecutive week as captain dating back to last season.
Both games will be available to stream on Women’s Sports Network as well as WNBA League Pass as the WNBA officially partners with AU for the first time. “I think that speaks to the growth and the support that the W has for this league and the desire for people to see women’s basketball growth,” said Sydney Colson.
Colson, who is serving as Chairperson for the Player Executive Committee, has harped on the importance of AU to the growth of women’s basketball and the opportunity it affords players. “By no means are we trying to make this a G league, it's not a mini WNBA. This is to give more women opportunities to play in the states, not the same women,” she said.