Allisha Gray and NaLyssa Smith Join WNBA Players on Athletes Unlimited

Allisha Gray and NaLyssa Smith Join WNBA Players on Athletes Unlimited

The Dallas Wings’ Allisha Gray and Indiana Fever’s NaLyssa Smith headline the newest additions to the Athletes Unlimited Basketball roster for the 2023 season. Gray, a gold medalist, and Smith, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft and an All-Rookie selection, join 15 WNBA players on AU’s official 2023 roster. 

In their second season, AU features top women’s basketball talent worldwide, including Lexie Brown, Natasha Cloud, Odyssey Sims, DiJonai Carrington, Courtney Williams, Taj Cole, Evina Westbrook, and Destinee Walker. 

The innovative women’s professional basketball league consists of 44 of the country’s best women’s basketball players. The players compete both on teams and as individuals throughout a five-week season. Athletes earn points on team wins and individual performance, and the top four point earners become team captains for a week. The player leaderboard adds extra flare and excitement to the league because team captains can draft their teams. 

AU complements the WNBA and offers WNBA players an opportunity to stay in the United States year-round. Like many AU players, Smith could have chosen to play overseas. She opted for AU, “so [her] family could see [her] play again,” per Insider

Further, AU provided Smith with a much-needed “break.” 

“I went straight from college straight to the WNBA; then it would’ve been straight to overseas,” Smith said. “So I knew, like, as soon as the WNBA ended, I was gonna do AU because it gives you some time to prepare” and then “go compete at a high level.” 

Unlike the WNBA, Athletes Unlimited is built upon an athlete-centered model. Instead of sharing profits with owners, players split league profits or compete on behalf of non-profit organizations through AU’s Athletes Causes program. Additionally, players are empowered to decide on uniforms, roster formation, and league rules.

Only in its second season, AU is making its wave in the women’s basketball world by increasing the visibility of women’s basketball in the United States, uplifting its athletes, and offering the game in a unique format. 

When WNBA stars compete overseas, it’s nearly impossible for fans to follow their path. However, as Smith said, “after the WNBA season, a lot of players go overseas, but you don’t get to really watch them. AU you gives you that opportunity to keep watching and keep following your favorite players.”

The second AU season will take place in Dallas from Feb. 22 to Mar. 26. All 30 games will be accessible to audiences worldwide, including five contests on CBS Sports Network.

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