By Jennifer Roback
Athletes Unlimited is known as a growing professional sports league dedicated to women's athletics. On October 12, 2021, AU announced the addition of basketball to its growing number of leagues, joining softball, volleyball, and lacrosse.
“Women’s basketball is a growing game. We have seen significant rating increases in the WNBA, massive growth in the NCAA, and a burgeoning landscape around the world," Athletes Unlimited Co-Founder/CEO Jon Patricof said. "With the launch of Athletes Unlimited, pro women’s basketball will be played during the winter to coincide with fans’ engagement with the NBA, NCAA, and international basketball, and brings us closer to the year-round access fans have on the men’s side.”
The league also announced its first three players including, Natasha Cloud of the Washington Mystics and WNBA veterans Sydney Colson and Ty Young.
Cloud will also serve as part of the league's Player Executive Committee.
“I am excited to be joining Athletes Unlimited Basketball and to be a member of the player executive committee,” Cloud said. “I have seen first-hand what Athletes Unlimited has done in its other leagues and have loved the high quality, fast pace of play and most importantly how the players have driven the decision-making on and off the court. Now we are going to bring that same energy and format to the sport of basketball.”
The league will feature 44 players competing during a five-week season, giving players a chance to stay within the States during the WNBA's off-season.
The season is set to kick off on January 29, 2022, and run through February 28.
At this time, the roster is still unknown but is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
According to AU, the format will consist of their unique model which sees teams being redrafted each week by captains, allowing athletes to accumulate points for both individual and team performances.
The league will also be overseen by former Nike basketball manager Ilene Hauser and Kristen Miles, who previously worked with Monumental Sports & Entertainment for the past 10 years.
"I really do think this is the progression that basketball needs outside of the 'W' here in the states," Cloud added.