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This Week in Women’s Basketball: Baylor to retire Brittney Griner’s No. 42

The great Brittney Griner’s jersey will go where it belongs, with Baylor to raising her No. 42 to rafters on Feb. 18. In other news, WNBA Golden State named Jess Smith the franchise’s president.

Kentucky v Baylor
Baylor will retire Brittney Griner’s No. 42 on Feb. 18.
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Although WNBA free agency signings and trades are stealing the headlines, here’s the other big news from women’s basketball:

Baylor to retire BG’s 42

On Monday, Baylor announced that Brittney Griner’s No. 42 jersey will be raised to the rafters of Foster Pavilion on Feb. 18, when the Bears host Texas Tech.

Griner’s collegiate career (2009-13) is unquestionably worthy of a jersey retirement. During her time in Waco, she led the Bears to two Final Fours, including a perfect 40-0 season and national championship as a junior in 2012. Her 748 career blocks remain the NCAA’s all-time mark, while her 3,283 career points are the fifth-most in women’s college basketball history.

In response to the forthcoming honor, Griner released the following statement:

I’m honored to return home to Baylor and celebrate where so much of my journey started. I’m grateful to Coach Nicki [Collen] and the entire Baylor community and am looking forward to the opportunity to be back on campus, spend time with the team and have my family beside me to share in this incredible moment. Sic ‘em Bears.

Jess Smith named president of WNBA Golden State

On Tuesday, WNBA Golden State named Jess Smith the franchise’s president.

For the last four years, Smith has served as head of revenue of the NWSL’s Angel City FC. In total, she has 18 years of experience in professional sports, including with the MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes, NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets and MLB’s Oakland A’s.

Speaking to ESPN, Smith said of her opportunity and intention:

I do believe that with my expertise coming from being probably the most successful commercial women’s brand in the world within sport, coupled with what the Warriors have built, and then all of us being connected to the Bay Area and willing to bring that together, that it will be unstoppable.

She further asserted:

It’s about of course being respectful to the incredible history and work that’s been done to date, and yet being relentless in the fact that it’s not good enough. The growth mindset of when we do great, we’re also going to think that’s not good enough, and then we’re going to do better, and we’re going to think that’s not good enough. Just the mindset of wanting more and more and knowing we’re capable of doing that together.

Finalizing the details for AU Season 3

Season 3 of Athletes Unlimited Pro Basketball is fast approaching, with tip off scheduled for Feb. 29 in Dallas. A final list of 40 athletes are slated to compete, with the Atlanta Dream’s Haley Jones and Los Angeles Sparks’ Rae Burrell among the latest additions to the roster.

Briann January, Chasity Melvin, Karima Christmas-Kelly will join Seimone Augustus as facilitators, with Danielle Viglione, an assistant coach with the Sparks, serving as the Player Development Coordinator.

And, all the action from the four-week AU competition will be available to stream on the WNBA app.

Happy Black History Month

The sport of women’s basketball would not be what it has been, is and will be without Black women, from those hooping on the court to those coaching from the sidelines to those covering the action through various mediums.