Last winter, Athletes Unlimited debuted its first basketball campaign, bringing 44 women to Las Vegas, Nevada for a five-week season. AU’s unique structure, which allotted points to each player for their actions on the court, named the top four scorers as captains for a redraft of the rosters. This periodic shuffling, alongside the three-games-in-four-days schedule, reminded these professionals of basketball tournaments from their childhood, of a gym filled with former and future teammates.
AU also filled a void, offering an opportunity for basketball players (some from the W, others professionals abroad or former college stars) to stay closer to home.
“The reality is that the WNBA season is only about five months,” Cloud told me in Las Vegas last year. “So, to have a league here, to establish another league here in the States, where women don’t have to go overseas and be away from their families, where they don’t have to put their bodies through year-round play. Just five weeks playing competitive basketball. It means everything for me to be an intricate part of bringing this here, because it’s a progression of women in sports. When we’re talking about investing in women, believing in women, valuing women and what they bring, AU is a prime example of that.”
Athletes Unlimited Basketball will build on that foundation when the league returns for its second season.
AU Hoops’ four highest point scorers—Tianna Hawkins, Lexie Brown, Natasha Cloud, and Izzy Harrison—stand together and watch a video recap as the 2022 inaugural season comes to a close. / Photo by Myles Ehrlich
This year, all games will take place at Fair Park Coliseum in Dallas, Texas from February 22 through March 26, 2023. Five of the 30 games will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network; in addition, a 30-minute special titled “Athletes Unlimited: A Pro Sports Revolution” will air this Saturday, October 29, at 1:30 p.m. ET on the CBS Television Network, as well as streaming on Paramount+.
AU’s strongest testimonial might well be its number of returning players: 21 of last year’s athletes have already signed on to compete again, including Lexie Brown, Natasha Cloud, and Sydney Colson, who are all members of the Athletes Unlimited Executive Committee.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of Athletes Unlimited once again,” said Colson, who chairs the committee. “The inaugural season was competitive and fun, and we have a talented roster ready to bring that same intensity to year two in Dallas! We hope the Dallas community is ready to embrace AU hoops because we’re so excited for another season to be able to play stateside.”
There are also some intriguing new additions to this year’s roster, which currently stands at 31 names. Layshia Clarendon, Allisha Gray, and NaLyssa Smith are three in particular that I’m eager to watch compete and collaborate during this year’s action.
Here’s the current list of players, accompanied by a map created by Danny Goodman that highlights the hometown of each participant.
Unlimited Club members have first access to presale season tickets starting at 10 a.m. CT on Wednesday, October 26. Season tickets for the general public will be available starting on 11 a.m. CT on Thursday, October 27, at auprosports.com/tickets.