Wednesday, May 9, 2012

VCU's Q might be in 2012 Olympics -- for Turkey

Q might be bound for the 2012 Olympics.

The former VCU star has obtained Turkish citizenship after playing this season for Hungarian league champion UNI SEAT Gyor, where she averaged 13 points and nine rebounds. Earlier this week, Quanitra Hollingsworth signed with Russian powerhouse UMMC for next season.

If the Turkish national team survives its qualification round in June -- which includes Japan and Puerto Rico -- Hollingsworth could represent Turkey in the Olympics in London. Nineteen players are in the pool for the Turkish team, which can accept only one naturalized player. Hollingsworth and Stanford's Kristen "Nevin" Nevlin are the two Americans in the pool. Nevlin, a center, acquired Turkish citizenship in 2008 and was the top scorer and rebounder for Eurobasket women the following year.

In the last EuroLeague season Hollingsworth, 24, ranked first in field-goal percentage (61.8 percent) and second in rebounds (10.1). The 6-5 center spent 2009 and 2010 with the Minnesota Lynx before being traded to the New York Liberty in 2011.

Training camp for the Turkish team begins next week, and the qualifying tournament will be held in Turkey.

"I am very excited to have a sure possibility to be an Olympian," Hollingsworth said via email. "I think to play on the very highest stage is a very big accomplishment. I am honored that Turkey trusts me enough to allow me the opportunity to represent their country."

Hollingsworth, born in Chesapeake, Va., is following the pattern set by Becky Hammon, who four years ago became a citizen of Russia and played for the Russian national team in the Olympics. She has not spoken to Hammon.

"I have spoken to many professional athletes who have been through exactly what I am going through," Hollingsworth said. "I also have so much support behind me from my teammates and my coaches. ... It is sad that I will not be representing the country that I was born and raised in. However, there are a lot bigger things  that should be concerning me. This opportunity is a blessing and I will look at it as just that."

An Olympic opportunity will delay Hollingsworth's return to the Liberty.

"Just like many other Olympians in the WNBA, I will miss some time with my team," she said. "However, I will be back in uniform immediately following the Olympic break."

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