All Scores

Five players to watch as Athletes Unlimited basketball tips off

(Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

Athletes Unlimited’s inaugural basketball season begins this week, with a plethora of new and old talent taking the court for the player-led five-week campaign. Of the 44-player roster, 11 hail from the WNBA, 11 from overseas and 12 from the sidelines after taking a year off for one reason or another.

Under AU’s unique scoring format, it’s hard to know who will come out on top. But it’s still fun to speculate, and Just Women’s Sports has five players to watch as the season gets underway Wednesday.

(Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

Briahanna Jackson

Most recent team: Club Aztks (Mexico)
Position: Guard

A guard out of Louisville, Jackson went undrafted in 2017 before heading overseas to play in Brazil, Spain, Puerto Rico, Poland and Mexico. Most recently, Jackson spent the 2021 season with Club Aztks in Mexico, where she averaged 15 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists through 24 games.

Spending her first two NCAA seasons at the University of Central Florida, Jackson was named the Conference USA Freshman of the Year and averaged 17.8 points per game as a sophomore before transferring to Louisville. She finished her 2016-17 redshirt senior season with the Cardinals second on the team in steals (41) and assists (127). Nationally, she ranked 33rd with a 2.35 assist-to-turnover ratio. With steals and assists each worth 10 points in the Athletes Unlimited system, Jackson could quickly move up the scoreboard.

As one of four players picked up during AU’s open tryouts in Atlanta, Jackson is a well-rounded playmaker who should fit into the lineup of any team that drafts her, giving her an advantage with the turnover each week.

(Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

Kelsey Mitchell

Most recent team: Indiana Fever (WNBA)
Position: Guard

The Indiana Fever’s No. 2 pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft, Mitchell is one of the most consistent scorers in the Athletes Unlimited pool. A member of the 2018 WNBA All-Rookie team, she’s only gotten better as her career has gone on. The 5-foot-8 guard has finished among the WNBA’s top-10 scorers the past two seasons, averaging 17.9 points per game in 2020 and 17.8 in 2021. She ended last season on a 23-game streak of scoring at least 10 points, the longest active such streak in the WNBA.

Mitchell is a prolific 3-point shooter, having left Ohio State as the NCAA’s all-time leader with 497 made 3-pointers. In 2018, Mitchell and Fever teammate Victoria Vivians recorded the most 3-pointers ever by a WNBA rookie tandem, with 135.

Made 3-pointers are worth 30 individual points in AU’s system, while a missed 3-pointer is a loss of just 10 points. A player loses the same amount of points for a field goal, but earns only 20 points for a made 2-point shot. While shot selection is still key, long-range shooters like Mitchell could end up being rewarded more for their efforts and find themselves higher up the leaderboard.

(Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

Mercedes Russell

Most recent team: Seattle Storm (WNBA)
Position: Center

A two-time WNBA champion with Seattle, Russell has spent four total seasons in the WNBA. The 6-foot-6 center finished last season just off her career best in points per game with 7.3 and with a career-high 6.1 rebounds. She also added 1.6 assists per game for the fourth-place Storm.

It’s not just the number of shots Russell takes that will serve her well in AU, but her offensive efficiency. Last season, she shot 61.7 percent from the field, good for second-highest in the WNBA. She is currently third in field-goal percentage in Storm franchise history, ahead of the likes of Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart, and is 14th all-time in the WNBA.

That level of efficiency should be rewarded in AU. While made shots are guaranteed points, missed shots lead to a deduction, meaning Russell is less likely to give up easy points.

(Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

Mikiah Herbert Harrigan

Most recent team: Seattle Storm (WNBA)
Position: Forward

A two-year WNBA veteran, Herbert Harrigan took off last year to give birth to a son. The Storm acquired the forward last February in a trade with the Minnesota Lynx, who drafted her sixth overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft. She made 21 appearances off the bench during her rookie season, averaging 3.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per game. She was an efficient shooter as well, with a field-goal percentage of 60 percent.

Before turning pro, Herbert Harrigan was a standout at South Carolina. As a senior, she averaged 13.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game during the regular season and was named SEC tournament MVP. Where Herbert Harrigan excels is on defense. She finished her career at South Carolina ranked second all-time with 210 blocked shots. While it might take some time for her to get back up to game speed after the year off, she could make an all-around impact for whichever captains draft her.

(Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

Kirby Burkholder

Most recent team: Energa Torun (Poland)
Position: Guard

Burkholder has extensive experience on the international circuit, playing in Poland, Hungary, Belgium and Italy. Most recently, she averaged 12.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists in seven games for Energa Torun in Poland. Prior to that, she was with ZTE Noi Kosarlabda Klub in Hungary and averaged 14.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

Before heading overseas, Burkholder was a standout guard at James Madison University. As a senior, she averaged 18.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game, finishing among the top-seven guards in the nation in rebounds per game and earning Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year. Upon graduating in 2014, Burkholder signed with the Mystics and competed in training camp before heading to Italy.

The guard has the high-scoring and high-rebounding potential to capitalize on AU’s scoring system.

Emma Hruby is an associate editor at Just Women’s Sports.

Nelly Korda Continues Unprecedented LPGA Run

LPGA golfer Nelly Korda poses with Mizuho Americas Open trophy
Nelly Korda took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open on Sunday. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Nelly Korda continued her unprecedented LPGA run on Sunday, winning her sixth tournament in the last seven starts. 

The 25-year-old Florida native took home the title at the Mizuho Americas Open, becoming the first LPGA player to record six wins in a single season since 2013 — and that’s with three majors and a little over half the season left to play.

"Oh, my gosh, six," Korda said after the win. "I can't even really gather myself right now with that, the head-to-head that Hannah and I had pretty much all day. Wasn't my best stuff out there today, but fought really hard on the back nine."

Korda is just the fourth player on tour to win six times before June 1st, joining LPGA Hall of Famers Babe Zaharias (1951), Louise Suggs (1953), and Lorena Ochoa (2008).

Should her victory run continue, Korda could break the current record for single-season wins, currently set at 13 by Mickey Wright in 1963.

Korda ended Sunday's tournament one shot ahead of Hannah Green, finishing the 18th with a par putt to win it all.

"I mean, to lose to Nelly kind of like is — it's sad, but then it's also Nelly Korda," Green said of her second-place finish. "You know, like she's obviously so dominant right now. To feel like second behind her is quite nice. Unfortunately the bogey on the last has a little bit of a sour taste."

Next up is the US Women’s Open, a tournament that Korda has yet to win in her career. 

"Obviously it's on the top of my priority list," she said. "I just know there is never any good when you put more pressure on yourself. Just going to stay in my bubble that week and take it a shot at a time."

Earlier this year, Korda became the fastest player to collect $2 million in prize money over a single season. This latest win earned her an additional $450,000, bringing her season total up to $2,943,708.

Caitlin Clark Signs Multi-Year Deal with Wilson, Gets Signature Basketball Collection

caitlin clark poses with wilson basketball
Clark is just the second athlete to get a signature basketball collection with Wilson. (Wilson Sporting Goods)

Caitlin Clark has signed a multi-year endorsement deal with Wilson Sporting Goods that will include a signature basketball collection, the brand announced early Tuesday. 

According to Boardroom, Clark is just the second athlete to develop a signature collection with Wilson, with the first being Michael Jordan in the 1980s. In addition to her basketball collection, she will also "test, advise and provide feedback on a range" of related products. 

Three Clark-branded white-and-gold Wilson basketballs have already dropped. Each ball features laser-cut engravings of some of the guard's most memorable moments at Iowa, where she became the all-time leading scorer in Division I college basketball history.

Three Wilson basketballs from Clark's collection have already dropped. (Wilson Sporting Goods).

"I think it is super special, and it's been fun for me," Clark told Boardroom. "I feel like I was just that young kid who had those basketballs that I would store in the garage. I'm just very lucky and fortunate to partner with Wilson to create something that everyone can enjoy. It connects with a lot of generations, and it'll be fun to see kids walking around holding them."

The No. 1 overall pick at the 2024 WNBA Draft, Clark has been building up a slate of major endorsements since turning pro. Current partnerships include Gatorade and Panini, and she’s also close to signing a signature shoe deal with Nike worth a reported $28 million.

New York Liberty off to First 4-0 Start in 17 Years

sabrina ionescu of the new york liberty on the court
Sabrina Ionescu led the undefeated Liberty to a 74-63 win over Seattle Monday night. (Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty are 4-0 on the season for the first time since 2007. 

The 2023 WNBA title finalists notched a 74-63 win over Seattle on Monday night, with Sabrina Ionescu dropping 20 points alongside eight assists. After the game, Ionescu told reporters she thought the team was coming together a bit easier than they did last year.

"I think having a year together, we don't nearly have to communicate as much on the court anymore," she said. "Because we can just play off one another and read. And that's obviously been the growth of this team, is being able to play a season together last year."

The team’s defense has also contributed heavily to the season's winning start. Last night, the Liberty held Jewell Loyd to just 13 points and nine rebounds. Loyd let the Storm in scoring, with only two other players in double digits, while Nneka Ogwumike missed her second straight game with an ankle injury. 

Storm free agency acquisition Skylar Diggins-Smith had eight points, and is averaging 14.5 points and 5.8 assists per game this season. In her postgame remarks, Storm head coach Noelle Quinn called on others to give her grace in her return. 

"There needs to be respect about the fact that she's had two children and hasn’t played in 20 months," said Quinn. "She’s not going to come overnight and be who she was 20 months ago and we have to respect that and honor that. And I do.

"My grace as a coach is to know she’s working her butt off every day. You guys don’t see it. Every single day. Two children. Not one, two. Not many can do that."

Australia’s Sam Kerr Ruled Out for 2024 Paris Olympics With ACL Injury

sam kerr playing for the australian womens national team
A longtime Matildas mainstay, Kerr has made 128 appearances for Australia alongside 69 career goals. (Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

Australia has confirmed that captain and star striker Sam Kerr will miss the Paris Olympics due to an ACL injury suffered early this year. 

Kerr, who also stars for Chelsea, tore her ACL in January. While unlikely that she would recover in time for the Olympics, Football Australia (FA) hadn’t confirmed her status until Tuesday when the team revealed its squad for upcoming warm-up games. 

In a statement, the FA said that Kerr remained on the sidelines and will continue her rehab program at Chelsea. 

"Attacker Amy Sayer (ACL) and forward Sam Kerr (ACL) remain on the sidelines with long term injuries," the report read. "Kerr and Sayer will continue their rehabilitation programmes in their home club environments and subsequently will not be available for selection for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games."

Tuesdays 23-player squad is a "strong guide" to the final Olympic lineup, according to coach Tony Gustavsson, but others like injured midfielders Katrina Gorry and Aivi Luik could potentially figure into the conversation. 

"[They] most likely will be physically available to be part of an Olympic roster," Gustavsson said of Gorry and Luik. "This window will be a tough one for me and my staff in terms of evaluating players, where they are, and then the final selection process for Paris."

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