Athletes Unlimited Basketball roster has 44-players for its inaugural season – and it’s clear it’ll be a competitive season. The league is packed with former college, and current overseas and WNBA players: 43 have represented a total of 37 NCAA Division I institutions; 42 have spent time in international professional leagues; 16 have WNBA experience across 97 seasons and six championships.
The WNBA’s Washington Mystics’ guard Natasha Cloud and former WNBA players Sydney Colson (competed in the 2019 WNBA Finals) and Ty Young (Champion and MVP of the 2012 Israeli Cup) were unveiled as the first three players to sign and make up the Athletes Unlimited Basketball Player Executive Committee.
Coming from the WNBA, there are a total of 11 commitments. Which include NCAA standout and second overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft Kelsey Mitchell, 2018 Duke University graduate, three-time All-American, and WNBA champion Lexie Brown, and WNBA champion Mercedes Russell. As well as former WNBA player Kalani Brown, current Dallas Wings forward Isabelle Harrison, and former WNBA player Imani McGee-Stafford.
They join 2021 WNBA All-Star Courtney Williams, Odyssey Sims, and Tianna Hawkins, who played for the Atlanta Dream this past season; Jantel Lavender of the Indiana Fever (an 11-year WNBA veteran, winning the championship in 2016); and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan of the Seattle Storm, who missed this past season on pregnancy leave. Essence Carson is also joining Athletes Unlimited following a 13-year WNBA career. Which included capturing the 2016 WNBA title alongside Jantel while playing for the Los Angeles Sparks.
The overseas depth is impressive as well. On the court you’ll find Kirby Burkholder, who currently plays in the top women’s pro league in Puerto Rico, Tyce Knox, Texas A&M’s season assist record-holder, who has played in both Israel and Finland, Jessica Kuster who is Rice’s all-time leading scorer with six seasons of international experience, and Laurin Mincy, a 2015 WNBA third round draft pick, has spent four seasons overseas.
There are also some hoopers who earned their way onto the roster. Becca Wann-Taylor– a two-sport student-athlete from the University of Richmond and All-American soccer player – is one of four players who earned a spot in Athletes Unlimited via the Open Tryouts last month in Atlanta, along with Taj Cole, Briahanna Jackson, and Takoia Larry.
Jantel Lavender shared, “Athletes Unlimited provides American players an additional opportunity to play in the United States, an opportunity we have always hoped for. Staying in the U.S. allows us to spend more time with our families while earning money. And not putting as much wear and tear on our bodies, so that we can put out the best product.”
“I am also looking forward to the unique Athletes Unlimited format, every week a new team, playing with – as well as against — some of the best players in our sport every week, I’m excited to be a part of the first group to try this out and I hope it’s something that can be an option for women’s basketball players for many years to come.”
Week 4 team captains are Tianna Hawkins, Isabelle Harrison, Natasha Cloud, and Odyssey Sims. Week 4 competition begins Wednesday the 16th at 3:30 PM on YouTube, with Team Harrison against Team Cloud.
The Week 2 team captains are Natasha Cloud (Gold), Lexie Brown (Orange), Isabelle Harrison (Blue) and Mercedes Russell (Purple). Week 2 competition begins Wednesday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT with Team Harrison vs. Team Brown on YouTube.
Here are the Athletes Unlimited Basketball rosters for Week 1.
The facilitators at Athletes Unlimited Basketball are first-class, too. This year, Team Purple will enjoy leadership from Shelley Patterson, Team Blue has Pokey Chatman, Team Orange has Danielle Viglione, and Team Gold has Plenette Pierson’s support.
|G||Ciara Andrews||Glenside, Pa.||Saint Joseph’s Univ. ‘16||–|
|G/F||Antoinette Bannister||Jacksonville, Fla.||East Carolina Univ. ‘17||–|
|C||Kalani Brown||Slidell, La.||Baylor Univ. ‘19||Hatayspor (KBSL-TUR)|
|G||Lexie Brown||Suwanee, Ga.||Duke Univ. ‘18||Chicago Sky (WNBA)|
|G||Kirby Burkholder*||Bridgewater, Va.||James Madison Univ. ‘14||Santurce (BSNF-PUR)|
|G||Marjorie Butler||Knoxville, Tenn.||Univ. of Georgia ‘16||–|
|G/F||DiJonai Carrington||San Diego, Calif.||Stanford Univ. ‘20⁴||Connecticut Sun (WNBA)|
|G||Essence Carson*||Paterson, N.J.||Rutgers Univ. ’08||–|
|G/F||Brittany Carter||St. Louis, Mo.||Ball State Univ. ‘14⁵||Keltern (DBBL-GER)|
|G||Natasha Cloud*||Broomall, Pa.||St. Joseph’s Univ. ‘15||Washington Mystics (WNBA)|
|G||Taj Cole||Richmond, Va.||Univ. of Georgia ‘19¹||Unicaja Málaga (LF2-ESP)|
|G||Sydney Colson*||Houston, Texas||Texas A&M Univ. ‘11||–|
|F||Drew Edelman||Sunnyvale, Calif.||Univ. of Southern California ‘16²||Hollywood Wonder (WUBA)|
|C||Nikki Greene||Diboll, Texas||Penn State Univ. ‘13||Angers (LFB-FRA)|
|F||Kiki Harrigan*||Pembroke Pines, Fla.||Univ. of South Carolina ‘20||Seattle Storm (WNBA)|
|G||Rebecca Harris||Belleville, Ill.||Univ. of Illinois ‘08||Dynamo NPU (SuperLeague-UKR)|
|F||Isabelle Harrison||Nashville, Tenn.||Univ. of Tennessee ‘15||Dallas Wings (WNBA)|
|F||Tianna Hawkins*||Washington, D.C.||Univ. of Maryland ‘13||Atlanta Dream (WNBA)|
|G||Ariel Hearn||Memphis, Tenn.||Univ. of Memphis ‘16||Sherbrooke Suns (Big V-AUS)|
|G||Grace Hunter||Raleigh, N.C.||North Carolina State Univ. ‘20||–|
|G||Briahanna Jackson||Tampa, Fla.||Univ. of Louisville ‘17||Club Aztks (LMBPF-MEX)|
|G/F||Meme Jackson||Murfreesboro, Tenn.||Univ. of Tennessee ‘19||Santurce (BSNF-PUR)|
|G||Tyce Knox*||Humble, Texas||Texas A&M Univ. ‘17||–|
|F||Jessica Kuster*||San Antonio, Texas||Rice Univ. ‘14||–|
|F||Takoia Larry||South Bend, Ind.||Texas Wesleyan Univ. ‘14||–|
|F||Jantel Lavender*||Cleveland, Ohio||Ohio State Univ. ‘11||Indiana Fever (WNBA)|
|C||Akela Maize||Greensboro, N.C.||North Carolina State Univ. ‘18||La Glacerie (LF2-FRA)|
|F||Lauren Manis||Franklin, Mass.||College of the Holy Cross ‘20||Cegledi (NB I/A-HUN)|
|G/F||Danielle L. McCray||Olathe, Kan.||University of Kansas ‘10||Poznan (EBLK-POL)|
|F||Danielle M. McCray||West Palm Beach, Fla.||Univ. of Mississippi ‘16||Hannover (DBBL-GER)|
|C||Imani McGee-Stafford||Los Angeles, Calif.||University of Texas ‘16||–|
|G||Laurin Mincy*||Newark, N.J.||Univ. of Maryland ‘15||–|
|G||Kelsey Mitchell||Cincinnati, Ohio||Ohio State Univ. ‘18||Indiana Fever (WNBA)|
|F||Chelsea Phillips||Long Beach, Calif.||Park Univ.||FSV Rijeka (Premijer Liga-CRO)|
|F||Toccara Ross||Davenport, Iowa||Iowa State Univ. ‘09||Pioneras de Delicias (LBE-MEX)|
|G||Tina Roy||Kaplan, La.||Univ. of South Carolina ‘16||–|
|C||Mercedes Russell||Springfield, Ore.||Univ. of Tennessee ‘18||Seattle Storm (WNBA)|
|G||Odyssey Sims*||Irving, Texas||Baylor Univ. ‘14||Atlanta Dream (WNBA)|
|G||Antoinette Thompson||Fort Worth, Texas||Texas Christian Univ. ‘12||Saarlouis (DBBL-GER)|
|G||Destinee Walker||Orlando, Fla.||Univ. of North Carolina ‘19³||Niki Lefkadas (A1 National-GRE)|
|G/F||Becca Wann-Taylor||Chesterfield, Va.||Univ. of Richmond ‘14||–|
|G||Courtney Williams*||Folkston, Ga.||Univ. of South Florida ‘16||Atlanta Dream (WNBA)|
|G||Dominique Wilson||Powder Springs, Ga.||North Carolina State Univ. ‘17||Wroclaw (EBLK-POL)|
|G/F||Ty Young*||Wilmington, N.C.||James Madison Univ. ‘08||Manati (BSNF-PUR)|
Header photo captured by Jade Hewitt for Athletes Unlimited.