| 6-15-2020 12:45 PM PT
Photo by FIBA
After years of fun but unfulfilled speculation, we will finally see the Samuelson sisters on the same team for the first time since taking the court together at Mater Dei High School. The hooping duo announced on June 12th that UConn alum Katie Lou Samuelson intends to play for the Perfumerías Avenida as part of Spain's Liga Dia, where her sister and Stanford alum Karlie Samuelson ('17) will be playing for a second season. The excitement is palpable:
The Puma product placement is also palpable.
For those unfamiliar, the WNBA season typically runs from mid-May to mid-September encompassing 34 games (upped to 36 for the 2020 season prior to the COVID-19 pandemic) as well as an 8 team playoff. This scheduling is strategic: the league has less competition from other sports in the summer months, and the timing allows WNBA players to go abroad in the offseason to play in other reputable leagues, like Australia's WNBL or Spain's Liga Dia. The latter, for example, typically starts around mid October, finishing up the 25ish game season with an 8 team playoff in April--right before the WNBA begins. This healthy ecosystem of player-sharing is a model I'm sure many would love to see the NBA adopt--I'd certainly watch Luka Doncic coax some Mavs to make a run in Spain in the summer months.
Karlie has taken advantage of this scheduling design, playing hard in Italy, Belgium, and Spain to boost her WNBA stock, where she is yet to carve a permanent place for herself despite some time with the Los Angeles Sparks and Dallas Wings organizations. Last year with CB Avenida, she averaged roughly 8 points a game on 18 minutes, with a remarkably high shooting percentage (24-39 from within the arc and 30-76 from 3 for the '19-20 season). Primarily a sharpshooter, Karlie is wise to hang around the Euro leagues given their emphasis on pure shooting.
With both Samuelsons, the Perfumerías Avenida will continue their juggernaut status. The team, located in Salamanca, has finished 1st or 2nd in the Liga Dia every year since 2005 (when they finished an embarrassing 3rd place), and they were atop the leaderboard again when coronavirus voided the '19-20 season.
Adding to their trophy case, CB Avenida has also won the Copa de La Reina de Baloncesto or Queen's Cup 7 of the last 9 years. The Queen's Cup is Spain's oldest women's basketball tournament (est. 1943), and it now acts as an important midseason tournament for the top 8 squads in the Liga Dia.
As if the European Leagues hadn't sprinkled in enough extra tournaments, the pair can hope they'll do well enough to qualify for the annual EuroLeague competition or the slightly less prestigious EuroCup competition, both of which would put them up against champions and runner up squads from across Europe.
Expectations are high, as what has been denied to fans of women's basketball many times--when Katie Lou chose UConn over her sister's Stanford, when the pair split up to represent USA and Great Britain in the FIBA world cup, and again when the Dallas Wings left Karlie off of their final roster for 2020 a few weeks ago--is finally coming to fruition. Get ready for some triples from a killer duo.
PS --> To read more about Karlie Samuelson and her time at Stanford / beyond, check out my "Where are they now?" article following Stanford's '16-17 Final Four squad.
--Fear The Me.
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