Most WNBA players have refrained from playing in Russia because of Brittney Griner‘s situation in the country. However, one report indicates that a “really good friend” of the basketball star has decided to sign with a Russian team.
The New York Times reports that Alex Bently, who last played in the WNBA in 2019, signed with UMMC Yekaterinburg. Bentley’s agent told the publication that she’s “good friends” with Griner but also wants to continue playing basketball.
Bentley spent six years in the WNBA, selected as a second-round pick out of Penn State in 2013. The 31-year-old last suited up for the Atlanta Dream in 2018-19. She has also played internationally for several years during his professional career.
The decision to suit up for a Russian team goes against what most WNBA players have decided since Griner was found guilty of drug charges in the summer. She faces a nine-year prison sentence following the verdict.
Many believe Russia holds Griner as a political prisoner. Because of it, WNBA players refuse to sign with Russian teams.
WNBA Players Refusing to Play in Russia
Russia has served as a destination for several WNBA players during the league’s offseason. Because of Brittney Griner’s detainment and the country’s invasion of Ukraine, many vowed to play anywhere else.
“Honestly my time in Russia has been wonderful, but especially with BG still wrongfully detained there, nobody’s going to go there until she’s home,” said WNBA star Breanna Stewart. “I think that, you know, now, people want to go overseas and if the money is not much different, they want to be in a better place.”
Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot join Stewart in their disassociation with Russian basketball teams because of the situations.
WNBA and NBA players, other professional athletes and celebrities have all pushed the United States government to bring Griner back to the country. While prisoner exchange talks have continued, the two sides have not reached an agreement.