Svetlana Abrosimova was selected by the Lynx with the seventh-overall pick in the 2001 WNBA Draft after a standout college career with the University of Connecticut. The Russian native helped the Lynx reach their first-ever playoffs in 2003, and played with the team for seven years.
Abrosimova had a stellar rookie year with Minnesota, averaging 13.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, and finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting. She became a foundational piece of the franchise in the early-to-mid-2000s, averaging double figures in scoring as a starter her first three years in the league, and 9.8 points per game in her fifth. The 6’2 forward was also a strong defender—she averaged 1.4 steals per game over her Lynx career.
It was a roundabout path to the league for Abrosimova. Despite her obvious skill, it wasn’t a sure thing that she would come to the U.S. to play college basketball. The Russian basketball federation didn’t want her to leave, and told her that she might not be able to make any money, or play on the Russian national teams if she left to play in the U.S. But Abrosimova wasn’t taking no for an answer. After a few months of hard studying for the ACT, she got her English up to a point where she could be admitted to UConn, and the rest was history.
Abrosimova was a fan favorite during her time in Minnesota, and was affectionately referred to by her teammates as the “Russian Princess.” But despite the royal moniker, she was far from entitled—Abrosimova was a hard worker with a real passion for the game, especially for scoring.
Like many WNBA athletes, Abrosimova had a stellar international career to go alongside her work in the WNBA. She played for Russia’s Olympic team in 2000 while still a junior in college. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics she helped her team earn a bronze medal. Abrosimova has also medaled in five European Championships and two World Championships. In 2017, she was named the general manager of the Russian Women’s Basketball National Team.