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Natasha Cloud, NaLyssa Smith headline second season of AU Basketball

Natasha Cloud finished second in the inaugural 2022 AU season. (Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

A new slate of stars have joined Athletes Unlimited Basketball for the second season, the league announced in a press release Tuesday.

WNBA rookies NaLyssa Smith, Naz Hillmon and Evina Westbrook are among the players signing on for the 2023 campaign, taking place at the Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas from Feb. 22 to March 26. They’re joined by WNBA veterans Layshia Clarendon, Allisha Gray and Jordin Canada in their first AU seasons.

Athletes Unlimited has received a commitment from 31 total players for the season, including 21 returners and 15 players with significant WNBA experience.

Smith, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, was named to the All-Rookie Team after a standout season with the Indiana Fever. Clarendon, a 2017 WNBA All-Star, was waived by the Minnesota Lynx early in the 2022 season but brings veteran leadership and star power to AU. Westbrook, the 21st overall pick in the 2022 draft, was also waived by Minnesota before the Washington Mystics picked her up.

Lexie Brown will return for her second season after finishing fourth, 1,514 points behind inaugural champion Tianna Hawkins on the 2022 leaderboard. Brown spent the past WNBA season playing for the Los Angeles Sparks.

Natasha Cloud and Ty Young also return after headlining the roster last season in Las Vegas. Cloud, the Mystics point guard and WNBA assists leader in 2022, finished second to Hawkins.

CBS Sports will broadcast five of the league’s 30 games on CBS Sports Network. They will also air a 30-minute special on CBS and Paramount+ at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, titled “Athletes Unlimited: A Pro Sports Revolution.” The film will tell the story of the league’s launch and its journey up to this point.

Athletes Unlimited also announced that Air National Guard has signed on as the Official Military Partner of the league.

“We are thrilled to bring the excitement of Athletes Unlimited Basketball to our great fans in Dallas, which will truly be the epicenter of women’s basketball during that time with AU and the NCAA Final Fours happening so close together,” said Athletes Unlimited CEO and co-founder Jon Patricof. “We are also proud to have the support of our partners at CBS Sports and Air National Guard in bringing our unique brand of basketball to fans.”