Credit: Mikhail Serbin, Aykut Akici,Rodolfo Molina - Getty Images | BasketNews illustration/A.Zaikauskas
Credit Mikhail Serbin, Aykut Akici,Rodolfo Molina - Getty Images | BasketNews illustration/A.Zaikauskas

The war in Ukraine set difficult times in the entire world, including basketball. Many players had to make a choice, whether to stay in Russia and continue playing or sacrifice paychecks and look for other teams.

3-pointers this season

36%
8,5
Points made: 8,5
Accuracy: 35,7%
Place in standings: 10
Record max: 14
Record min: 2
Most made 3FGs: Billy Baron

BasketNews compiled a list of the American and other international players who decided to stay in their respective VTB League teams and opted to leave the country.

American and international players who decided to leave Russian clubs

CSKA Moscow

  • Iffe Lundberg
  • Joel Bolomboy
  • Daniel Hackett
  • Johannes Voigtmann
  • Tornike Shengelia
  • Marius Grigonis

CSKA had only two Americans on their roster: Will Clyburn and Allerik Freeman. However, the situation with Freeman is uncertain. He officially signed with the Russian club on February 1st and made his debut on February 7th against UNICS.

However, so far, it's the only game Freeman played for CSKA, and the club didn't make any announcement regarding his departure.

The biggest CSKA losses came from international players. Iffe Lundberg, Ukrainian-born Joel Bolomboy, Daniel Hackett, Johannes Voigtmann, Tornike Shengelia, and Marius Grigonis decided to leave for their home countries.

However, Hackett and Shengelia terminated their contracts with CSKA and will team up again in Italy, where they signed contracts with EuroCup contenders Virtus Bologna.

CSKA also officially announced the signing of Kevin Pangos on February 23rd, but the Canadian point guard hasn't arrived in Moscow until now.

Zenit St. Petersburg

  • Tyson Carter
  • Jordan Loyd
  • Billy Baron
  • Alex Poythress
  • Jordan Mickey
  • Mindaugas Kuzminskas
  • Mateusz Ponitka
  • Arturas Gudaitis

In terms of personnel, Zenit suffered the biggest losses in the whole VTB League, including five Americans: Tyson Carter, Jordan Loyd, Billy Baron, Alex Poythress, and Jordan Mickey. They were joined by other international players such as Lithuanians Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Arturas Gudaitis, and Polish forward Mateusz Ponitka.

UNICS Kazan

  • John Brown
  • Isaiah Canaan
  • Lorenzo Brown
  • Jarrell Brantley
  • John Holland
  • Marco Spissu

Despite retaining Hezonja, UNICS also had some painful departures, including the big trio of John Brown, Isaiah Canaan, and Lorenzo Brown. Two other Americans, Jarrell Brantley and John Holland, also left the team.

The Italian point guard Marco Spissu also didn't play in the recent game against Tsmoki Minsk.

Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar

  • Gregg Whittington
  • Johnathan Motley
  • Stanton Kidd
  • Darius Thompson

Lokomotiv managed to retain a bigger part of their American players, but four of them also decided not to continue their careers in Russia. 

The most significant loss is Johnathan Motley, who averaged 21.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, and 24.0 PIR in the EuroCup campaign.

Avtodor Saratov

  • Kenny Cherry
  • D.J. Funderbunk
  • Philipp Scrubb
  • Grant Jerrett

Avtodor lost most of their foreign players, including two Americans in D.J. Funderbunk and Grant Jerret and two Canadians – Kenny Cherry and Phillip Scrubb.

Scrubb was the most efficient player of the team, averaging 11.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 13.0 EFF in 9 VTB League contests.

Enisey Krasnoyarsk

Enisey lost three American players: Brynton Lemar, Rion Brown, and Darral Willis. 

Willis was one of the team leaders, averaging 13.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and a team-high 16.2 EFF.

Parma-Parimatch Perm Krai

Jeremiah Hill was the only American in Parma's roster this season. However, he played his last game on January 4th.

Tsmoki Minsk

The Belarussian club had three Americans this season: Angelo Warner, Jason Clark, and De'Quon Lake. However, none of them took part in the last game against Zenit. The team didn't make any official announcements about their decision or future in the team.

American and international players who decided to stay

CSKA Moscow

  • Nikita Milutinov
  • Will Clyburn
  • Dimitris Itoudis (head coach)

CSKA have been one of the most affected teams regarding players' departures. However, Will Clyburn, Nikita Milutinov, and head coach Dimitris Itoudis decided to stay.

Milutinov took part in Monday's victory against Avtodor Saratov, accumulating 21 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 22 EFF.

Meanwhile, Clyburn continues his rehab after the injury, but according to BasketNews sources, the American forward is still in Moscow.

On February 11th, BasketNews reported that Clyburn was working on a contract extension with CSKA as he will be a free agent after this season. However, it is not clear yet, whether the situation in Russia will make Clyburn change his decision.

Credit BNS

Zenit St. Petersburg

  • Aaron Carver
  • Xavi Pascual (head coach)

Zenit also took a big blow due to the war in Ukraine, as five Americans decided to leave the country.

The only one left is Aaron Carver, who made his VTB League debut on Sunday. In an 82-75 win against Parma, Carver finished with 8 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 17 EFF.

Head coach Xavi Pascual also decided to remain with the team and was present in the mentioned game against Parma.

UNICS Kazan

  • O.J. Mayo
  • Mario Hezonja
  • Velimir Perasovic (head coach)

UNICS star Mario Hezonja was one of the brightest players who decided to remain in Russia. On Sunday, he notched a triple-double of 25 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists, and a game-high 42 EFF.

O.J. Mayo was also registered for the game but didn't clock a single second. The Croatian head coach Velimir Perasovic was also present in the game.

Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar

  • Errick McCollum
  • Alan Williams
  • Jaylen Barford
  • Ivan Paunic
  • Branko Maksimovic (head coach)

Lokomotiv retained the majority of foreign players, including three Americans: Errick McCollum, Alan Williams, and Jayen Barford. Serbian guard Ivan Paunic and head coach Branko Maksimovic also stayed with the team.

Avtodor Saratov

  • Jaron Johnson
  • Zeljko Sakic

Avtodor still have one American on their roster, Jaron Johnson. He didn't play in the recent game against CSKA but was included in the squad.

Johnson is Avtodor's top scorer, averaging 13.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 12.6 EFF.

The Croatian forward Zeljko Sakic also stayed in Russia and accumulated 13 points, 4 assists, and 15 EFF against CSKA.

Credit BNS

Enisey Krasnoyarsk

  • Casper Ware
  • James Thompson

Enisey retained two American players in Casper Ware and James Thompson. Both of them took part in the recent game against Lokomotiv.

Ware had a great game, finishing with 24 points, 10 assists, 9 drawn fouls, and a game-high 26 EFF.

Women basketball

The women's basketball circuit is unique in that U.S., Australian, and European-based players usually play in WNBA in summer and European competitions in the rest of the calendar.

And the latest war situation is a big challenge for women basketball players because a big portion of their annual income stems from European teams and competitions. 

Currently, the Russian National Team and top Russian club teams like UMMC Ekaterinburg, Dynamo Kursk, and MBA Moscow are banned from playing in FIBA affiliated European women's competitions (Euroleague Eurocup Women).

Brittany Griner's case aside, all of the players who are actively a part of the WNBA franchise reportedly left Russia and Ukraine.

These include:

  • Breanna Stewart
  • Jonquel Jones
  • Arike Ogunbowale
  • Natasha Howard
  • Epiphanny Prince.

As reported earlier, Griner was detained after vape cartridges containing hashish oil were found during a search of her luggage in the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow.

Credit AP - Scanpix

However, there are still non-WNBA and non-Russian/Belarussian players playing in the Russian domestic league.

One of them is Auburn Tigers alumni Unique Alexandria Thompson. She is playing her first season overseas and played for Sparta and K two days ago against Rostov-Don-Yufu, finishing with 8 points and 11 rebounds.

Thompson was also selected by Indiana Fever in the 2021 WNBA Draft (2nd round, 19th pick) but did not get to play in WNBA yet.

Yesterday, Dallas Wings announced that they signed a training camp contract with Thompson but did not make a clarifying announcement about players' situation in Russia other than "currently playing in overseas, Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje".

Also, two Belgium NT players played in the latest games of their teams, which were two days ago:

  • Kyara Linskens (Nadezhda)
  • Hind ben Abdelkader (Nika).

Linskens was her team's leading scorer with 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists, although Nadezhda lost to MBA Moscow 76:62.

Former Indiana Fever player Hind ben Abdelkader, who also could not help her team from losing against UMMC Ekaterinburg in their latest game in the domestic competition, also announced her upcoming game with Nika against Samara on her Instagram story.

Former Lithuanian National Team player Laura Zelnyte also played a game two days ago in the Russian Premier League with Enisey, which she joined last January. 

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Sigis
in Parma lithuanian coach left and two lithuanian players too
2022-03-09
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