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.
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.