The 2017 WNBA season is only six weeks away, and many of the league’s stars have wrapped up their offseason campaigns overseas. Some are still in action across the pond, but others have helped their respective teams win trophies and can now focus on the summer season ahead.
Here is an update on some of the WNBA players thriving overseas.
Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx
For the second straight year, Fowles guided Beijing Great Wall to the championship in China’s WCBA. In a league full of other WNBA stars, Fowles helped Beijing go undefeated during the playoffs, including a three-game sweep of Glory Johnson’s Xinjiang squad in the semifinals. After averaging 21.7 points and 11.5 rebounds per game in the regular season, Fowles produced an even more impressive 29 points and 11.7 boards per contest in the championship series. She was named to the All-WCBA First Team alongside Johnson and Breanna Stewart.
Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
The six-time EuroLeague champion is on her way to earning more hardware this spring. Playing alongside other WNBA stars at UMMC Ekaterinburg – including Kristi Toliver, Emma Meesseman and Mercury teammate Brittney Griner – Taurasi is leading the squad with 18.3 points per game and shooting 45 percent from downtown in EuroLeague action. Aiming to repeat as champions, UMMC Ekaterinburg is scheduled to face Fenerbahce in the semifinals in mid-April. In the Russian league, Taurasi’s team went 19-1 in the regular season and will commence its semifinal series next week.
Griner, Toliver and Meesseman have all played key roles in UMMC Ekaterinburg’s season. They are averaging 16.6, 10.4, and 9.1 points per game, respectively, in EuroLeague play.
Sonja Petrovic, Phoenix Mercury
Another player thriving in the EuroLeague is Taurasi’s teammate in Phoenix, Sonja Petrovic, who is playing with ZVVZ USK Praha. With Petrovic pacing the team at 17 points per game, ZVVZ USK Praha has cruised to the semifinals and will now take on a Dynamo Kursk squad that features WNBA stars Angel McCoughtry and Nneka Ogwumike. ZVVZ USK Praha is also in the semifinals of the Czech league, which begin Wednesday. With the help of fellow WNBA players Kia Vaughn, Marta Xargay, and Candice Dupree, Petrovic guided ZVVZ USK Praha to a perfect 22-0 regular season.
Moriah Jefferson, San Antonio Stars
Seattle’s Jewell Loyd starred for Galatasaray following her rookie year in the WNBA, and now it’s Jefferson doing the same while guiding the Turkish squad to a successful season. She’s averaging 18.2 points and 4.6 assists per game while shooting better than 50 percent from the field in league play. With three games remaining, Galatasaray sits in fourth place with a 16-6 record. Jefferson was even better in EuroCup action, finishing with averages of 22 points and 4.9 assists per game as her squad was eliminated in the semifinals last week. Galatasaray had gone unbeaten in group play before coming up short in the knockout round.
Ramu Tokashiki, Seattle Storm
Tokashiki is the face of women’s basketball in Japan, and earlier this month she completed another dominant season in her home country. With Tokashiki leading the way, JX-Eneos Sunflowers went undefeated throughout the regular season and tournament play, capturing trophies for the league title and the All-Japan championship. Tokashiki’s numbers dipped a bit from the previous two years when she led the league in scoring, but she still led the league in field goal percentage (61.5) and blocks (2.1 per game). That helped her earn a third consecutive MVP award.
Jonquel Jones, Connecticut Sun
Jones chose to play in South Korea for her first season abroad, and the Sun forward made the most of the opportunity. She led the league in points (15.8 per game), rebounds (14.3) and blocks (2.8) while helping Woori Bank win 33 of its 35 regular-season games. In the championship series, Jones went up against Sun teammate Alyssa Thomas, the leading scorer for Blue Minx. Thomas had an incredible Game 1 in the series – 21 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three steals – but it wasn’t enough as Woori Bank pulled out a narrow victory. An overtime win in Game 3 on March 20 sealed the title for Jones’ squad.