Sydney Colson: Athletes Unlimited ‘is not a mini WNBA’

Sydney Colson wants Athletes Unlimited to stand on its own. (Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimted)

As the second season of Athletes Unlimited basketball begins, its players want to set the record straight: AU is not just a feeder for the WNBA.

Sydney Colson serves as the chair of the player executive committee for Athletes Unlimited and also plays for the Las Vegas Aces. And ahead of AU’s opening night Thursday, the 33-year-old guard pushed back at the notion that the league could become the WNBA’s version of the NBA G League.

“The WNBA and AU are completely separate,” she said Tuesday. “By no means are we trying to make this a G League. It’s not a mini WNBA.”

While there is some crossover between the two leagues, as a number of players have opted to join Athletes Unlimited during the WNBA offseason, Colson said the goal is to expand the player pool.

“This is to give more women opportunities to play in the States, not just the same women,” she said. “It’s very important to us as a [committee] to not turn this into just another league for WNBA players to come in and overtake.

“There are a lot of capable overseas athletes who aren’t afforded the opportunity to come and play in the WNBA, to ever get on a training camp roster, to be on a team. So for us, it is very important to our core of this league to keep it that way and to always give more people opportunities.”

That doesn’t mean AU doesn’t have any support from the WNBA. This year’s hoops season will be streamed on WNBA League Pass, which Colson called a “big deal” that “speaks to the support of this league.”

But most importantly, the talent this year has grown, as evidenced by the league’s scrimmages last week.

“We just have way more depth in our talent from top to bottom,” Colson said.

The second season of Athletes Unlimited basketball will feature Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud, Atlanta Dream guard Allisha Gray, Chicago Sky newcomers Isabelle Harrison and Courtney Williams and more star power.