(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Athletes Unlimited is launching its next league: basketball.

The fourth league in the Athletes Unlimited lineup is set to debut in January 2022, joining softball, volleyball and lacrosse. It will follow the same model that AU has deployed in its first three leagues, with player captains re-drafting teams each week.

Athletes Unlimited Basketball will feature 44 players competing in a five-week season from Jan. 29 through Feb. 28 in 2022.

“Athletes Unlimited has built the highest quality and most successful versions of softball, lacrosse and volleyball leagues in the United States we have seen to-date, and we couldn’t be more excited to apply our innovative model to basketball,” said Athletes Unlimited Co-Founder and CEO Jon Patricof. “Women’s basketball is a growing game. We have seen significant ratings increases in the WNBA, massive growth in the NCAA and a burgeoning landscape around the world.

“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 aims to have current and former WNBA players, as well as players from the U.S. and international locations, on its final roster.

Already set to compete is the Washington Mystics’ Natasha Cloud. Cloud played in 27 games for the Mystics in 2021, averaging 8.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game. The point guard is married to 2021 Athletes Unlimited Softball champion Aleshia Ocasio.

“I am excited to be joining Athletes Unlimited Basketball and to be a member of the player executive committee,” said Cloud. “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.”

WNBA veterans Sydney Colson and Ty Young will join Cloud as the first three athletes in the league. Colson last played for the Chicago Sky in 2020, while Young’s most recent stint came with the Las Vegas Aces in 2019.