Sky’s Courtney Vandersloot plans to continue her overseas career despite WNBA’s looming prioritization rule

Courtney Vandersloot has no intention of ending her overseas career despite the WNBA’s looming prioritization rule.

In fact, she’s set on winning another Euroleague title. She will begin those pursuits with Euroleague’s reigning champion, Hungarian club Sopron Basket, in mid-October following the 2022 WNBA season.

“I still have more to do,” Vandersloot said. “I’m Hungarian, I felt like [Sopron] was a good situation for me. I’m ready for a new challenge.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created an unprecedented level of uncertainty for WNBA players who compete overseas in the league’s offseason.

The arrest and detainment of Vandersloot’s UMMC Ekaterinburg teammate and WNBA star Brittney Griner was a factor in her decision not to play in Russia.

Griner was detained in February after Russian authorities said a search of her luggage revealed vape cartridges that allegedly contained oil derived from cannabis. Griner’s detention was extended to May 19, the Russian news agency TASS reported in March.

“Brittney is always top of mind,” Vandersloot said. “That could have been any of us. [Her detainment] does play a part. For me, I just want Brittney home and safe. It’s really sensitive and hard to be that close to home.”

Apart from Griner’s situation, playing overseas will have a new complication in 2023. The prioritization rule was added in the league’s new CBA in 2020 and will go into partial effect next season and full effect in 2024.

Beginning next year, any player with more than three years of experience in the WNBA who does not arrive to training camp on time will be fined 1% of their salary for every day of training camp that’s missed. If players do not arrive by the start of the regular season, they will be suspended for its entirety.

In 2024 that full-season suspension will be enforced if players are not in market by the beginning of training camp.

Vandersloot said she understands the thought behind the new rule, but believes she should have control over how she spends her offseason.

“I don’t think it’s the right move,” Vandersloot said. “We have a great opportunity to make very good money overseas and I don’t think anybody should be able to take that from us. Especially without supplementing the income.”

The league’s max and minimum base player salaries did increase with the new CBA, ranging from a rookie minimum of $60,471 to the $228,094 supermax deal. Another implementation in the new CBA that adds to the players’ earnings is the league’s ability to sign players to marketing agreements. Those agreements could lead to an extra $250,000 in earnings.

For the first time since her rookie year, Vandersloot was able to rest before Sky’s training camp began after returning to the United States from Russia in early March. The league’s top point guard said she has enjoyed playing year-round and will continue to as long as it’s benefiting her career.

“I’m going to continue to play, do what’s best for my career and make the decisions as I come to it,” Vandersloot said. “I don’t think that should be a factor. I should be able to do what I want in the offseason.”

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