HOLLINGSWORTH EYES STATESIDE RETURN…AFTER EURO MATTERS

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Former Ram Quanitra Hollingsworth averaged 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds for the New York Liberty in 2011.

Former Ram Quanitra Hollingsworth averaged 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds for the New York Liberty in 2011.

Yes, Quanitra Hollingsworth will be returning to the WNBA this year, but she’s got some other business to tend to first.

The former VCU star and Olympian, currently playing with UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian PBL, says she gave her blessing to the April 15 trade which sent her rights from the New York Liberty to the Washington Mystics for a third round draft pick.

“I was made aware of the option of being traded,” the 24-year-old Hollingsworth wrote via email. “After communicating with [New York] and my agent, I felt this was the best decision for me given all circumstances.”

Hollingsworth, a three-year WNBA veteran, did not play in the league last season due to her commitment to the Turkish Olympic team. In 90 career WNBA games with the Minnesota Lynx and the Liberty, Hollingsworth has averaged 3.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. The ninth overall pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft by the Lynx, Hollingsworth enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2011 after being acquired by New York. Hollingsworth served as a critical reserve for the Liberty that season, providing 4.6 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game.

Hollingsworth became a naturalized Turkish citizen last year and helped that country reach the Olympic quarterfinals in London last summer, averaging 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds. But Hollingsworth will return stateside this year.

“I did miss playing in the WNBA last year, and that was part of my decision to be traded,” she said. “I wanted an opportunity to be back playing on that stage as soon as possible.”

She plans to report to the Mystics, who finished 5-29 last season, in July, after she plays for Turkey in the European Championships June 15-30 in France. Turkey opens Group play June 15 against Ukraine.

Hollingsworth will play for Turkey in this summer's European Championships.

Hollingsworth will play for Turkey in this summer’s European Championships.

In the meantime, she’ll focus on European matters.

Her current UMMC squad is loaded with a roster that includes Diana Taurasi, Candace Parker and Sue Bird. Unsurprisingly, the team has already rolled to Russian Cup and Russian League Championships. Hollingsworth is averaging 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds, while shooting 61 percent from the field, this season for UMMC.

In early June, she’ll report to training camp with the Turkish National Team for European Championship preparations. Turkey has never won the bi-annual event, but captured a surprise silver medal in 2011. Combined with the country’s 4-2 mark in Olympic play last summer, Hollingsworth and the Turks could be primed for a breakthrough. Turkey is 13th in FIBA’s World Rankings, and second in fibaeurope.com’s April 22 Power Rankings of European teams.

“I am excited about the European Championships and what our team can do there. We have a strong team,” Hollingsworth, a Chesapeake, Va. native, said. “Last summer’s participation in the London Olympics granted us with much experience that we will take into this June’s competitions. With the addition of some younger players at training camp, we will have all that is necessary to accomplish our set goals for France!”

Hollingsworth made waves back in 2005, when she cracked VCU’s starting lineup at 16 years old. She went on to total more than 1,600 points, 1,100 rebounds and 55 double-doubles in four seasons for the Rams, and led VCU to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009.

HOLLINGSWORTH, TURKEY LOCK UP OLYMPIC BID

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Former VCU star Quanitra Hollingsworth averaged 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in three games to help Turkey to its first-ever Olympic bid.

ANKARA, Turkey – It’s official. Former VCU star Quanitra Hollingsworth and Turkey are headed to the 2012 London Olympics.

Hollingsworth scored 12 points and added eight rebounds in Turkey’s 72-58 win over Argentina Friday in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament Quarterfinals to send the Turks to the Olympic Games for the first time.

In three games – all victories – Hollingsworth has averaged 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds for Turkey. The Turks advance to the tournament semifinals on Sunday, but it’s essentially academic. Turkey has already locked up one of five Olympic bid available in Ankara.

Hollingsworth, who holds dual citizenship in the United States and Turkey, will be one of two Rams to participate in the Olympics in recent years. Hayley Moorwood was a member of New Zealand’s women’s soccer squad at the 2008 Games in Beijing, China.

A member of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, Hollingsworth starred at VCU from 2005-09 and led the Rams to their first NCAA Tournament bid in 2009. Hollingsworth ranks third in school history in points and is second in rebounds and double-doubles.

QUANITRA HOLLINGSWORTH: TURKISH CITIZEN, OLYMPIAN?

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Former VCU star Quanitra Hollingworth (left) will try to lead Turkey to the 2012 Olympics in London this summer.

Quanitra Hollingsworth has always been a few years ahead of her peers. Not just in the classroom, where she skipped two years of middle school, not just on the basketball court, where she was dominant, but the way she approached life.

Even as a 16-year-old redshirt freshman at VCU during the 2005-06 season, she was already talking about more adult ventures like traveling Europe and seeing the world. Basketball was never her station in life. It was her vehicle.

“Everyone always assumes the WNBA was my big dream. I could’ve cared less about the WNBA until I was a senior in college,” Hollingsworth, 24, said. “I always wanted to learn about other countries. I didn’t want to be placed in a box. I wanted to experience everything.”

As if playing professionally in Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary the last three years wasn’t enough, Hollingsworth, who is also a member of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, has decided to take her European immersion to another level.

Hollingsworth was recently granted Turkish citizenship, a step that allowed her to become a member of the Turkish National Team ahead of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London. On the heels of a Hungarian Championship with Uni Seat Gyor last month, Hollingsworth is set to depart for Istanbul on May 12 for the Turkish National Team’s training camp.

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