Angel McCoughtry

Basketball Legend Angel McCoughtry Returns to the Court with AU Pro Hoops

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2024 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
W.G. Ramirez
Feb 29, 2024

“I’m a legend and an Icon…”

The lyrics flow with a melodramatic vibe serving as the backdrop to Angel McCoughtry’s bars on her latest track.

Aptly named “Icon,” it’s one of McCoughtry’s many ventures that is keeping fans engaged with her life off the court.

“Legend, GOAT, Role Model…”

Call her what you want, they’re all vibes that will be felt over the next four weeks in Dallas within the confines of Athletes Unlimited’s third pro basketball season.

McCoughtry has quickly become a welcomed O.G. along with a handful of other established and beloved basketball stars whom younger players in attendance have admired for years.

“I don’t want to age her, but I remember watching her when she played for the (Atlanta) Dream when I was in high school,” AU Player Executive Committee chair Lexie Brown said during Tuesday’s press conference. “I was a very, very avid fan growing up in Atlanta, so I remember watching her thinking she was amazing. I remember all these things. So to have her here, we’re so grateful. I’m honored that she wanted to be a part of this for sure.”

First-year AU Pro Basketball player Haley Jones took a step further, saying she didn’t want to age Brown, but she was in middle school watching McCoughtry when she was working on an All-American career at Louisville.

“I think it’s really cool to be able to be here and … just soaking up a lot of her knowledge,” Jones added. “Especially having someone like Angel, who’s just like a pillar of women’s basketball for me growing up.”

McCoughtry admitted during a recent conversation she was skeptical at first, questioning whether she wanted to dedicate five to six weeks to a 3-year-old league at the age of 37, wondering if this was the avenue that would lead her back to the WNBA after missing last season.

Should she work on her basketball skills privately while focusing on several entertainment endeavors, including her newly released six-episode “Ballin’ in Baltimore” on the Very Local app, or her music that has been widely streamed across the board?

“I worked so hard for this…” is a lyric from another one of her joints, “3 Stripes,” which leads the open to every “Ballin’ in Baltimore” episode.

What McCoughtry’s worked hard for is a decorated career as a basketball player and businesswoman, which is why it didn’t take long for her to realize joining AU was her best decision to tip off 2024.

“I’m around the camaraderie again,” she said. “I get to be around the energy of it. It really is amazing how they have everything organized and just being around players like Ty (Young) and Essence (Carson), the older players. I’m glad they’re here because I did not want to be the oldest player here. It’s good to have that, the vets mixed with the younger players, because then you can see the younger players learn from Essence and Ty and (Natasha) Cloud … and myself.”

From a personal standpoint, she also gets back in shape, and is not only around the game, but will be in competitive situations she’ll need to obtain a new contract in the WNBA.

“That’s my goal, and I thank AU for giving me that opportunity,” she said. “This actually has been a blessing in disguise for a lot of girls. It’s beyond basketball here, I’m getting to know what these girls (do). To learn the talents they have beyond basketball, this is creating a legacy for all these women, and friendships and bonds beyond the game.”


The creators of “Ballin in Baltimore” couldn’t have picked a better person to introduce fans to her hometown of Charm City, considering McCoughtry exudes nothing but pleasing human characteristics, such as charm and charisma.

Hailing from East Baltimore, the five-time WNBA All-Star first picked up a basketball at 8 years old when a friend of her mother’s suggested the sport due to McCoughtry’s height at such a young age. Her father played at Coppin State, so the sport, some may say, was in her genetic code.

When you come from a historically basketball-rich community like Baltimore, where in certain neighborhoods you honed your skills on asphalt courts, built-in grit was a necessity. And if you can’t show your bravado and toughness on street courts, others will find your weaknesses to expose.

McCoughtry has never been one to be exposed for weakness.

A quick glance at her résumé proves that, as she clearly belongs in the same conversations many add Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Candace Parker, and Cynthia Cooper in when discussing WNBA GOATS.

Perhaps the defensive tenacity that landed her on the league’s All-Defensive First Team seven times comes from a cold-blooded nature that’s sometimes needed to ball in Baltimore.

The two-time WNBA scoring champion also has roots grounded in Atlanta, which she proudly represents in addition to her hometown, making it two basketball-rich communities known for the type of moxie that employs a winning attitude.

In keeping a tough, deliberate persona as a true baller from the streets of Baltimore, she can also present a calming and resolvent nature. It’s a dichotomy she pulls off well, understanding those around her without judgment.

“She’s a veteran with over a decade of W experience and an Olympian who helped that team win a gold medal,” third-year AU veteran and fellow OG Syd Colson said. “With that résumé alone, you know that she’ll bring great insight to whichever team she’s on each week and a winning mindset.”


Don’t get it twisted, the two-time gold medalist wants what she deserves.

But this is a person who when WNBA players were making no more than $100,000 per year said she wanted to see players and their brands expand to 1 million dollars of net worth within 7-10 years.

That was in 2017.

Some annual salaries are now upwards of $200,000 per season, while endorsements for many players are nearing nearly seven figures, if not there already.

Her stance remains the same, that the men’s game is set, and the women’s game is an evolution.

“It’s a beautiful thing that it’s happening,” said McCoughtry, a member of the WNBA’s 25th Anniversary team. “Of course we have a way to go. But I feel like it’s just time. You can’t tell me Candace Parker’s value and brand is worth less than a million. You can’t tell me that. You can’t tell me Diana Taurasi’s, Sue Bird’s brand, my brand is less than a million. I’m standing by that. I just want things to get better for vets like myself, who have paid their dues.

“And it’s time to pay homage to these women who’ve been around so long. They kept the league alive.”

She isn’t shy in admitting she’s contemplated leaving the game many times, but the deep passion she has for the sport — past, present and future — has kept a ball in her hands no matter what.

She continues to prove she still has game; her voice is powerful on and off the court, her leadership is invaluable, and her experience would enhance any locker room.

Which is why she wants to make a return to the WNBA, make a difference with whatever team will have her, and prove once and for all she should retire on her terms — not those of others.

“No vet of any caliber of that sort should go through that,” McCoughtry said. “And hopefully my story can change that with the future of the league, with more roster spots for women, better treatment for women with injuries, better treatment for women who are pregnant, it’s time to elevate our game to that level.

“I don’t want it to continue to where women give their all to this game and then you’re shut out.”

Further, McCoughtry wants to be more involved in working toward a better community for women who support one another after basketball, be it with professional endeavors, coping with retirement, or simple check-ins from a mental health aspect.

It’s an area from the outside looking in she said her basketball comrades can do better, working together stronger, knowing there’s more power in numbers.

“I think we all as human beings have our own mental health struggles,” McCoughtry said. “We have our own demons and spiritual warfare. But it’s more so checking on a person. Sometimes we don’t check on (friends). People fake being okay. They’re not gonna show you they’re hurt.

“I don’t want these girls to get lost. I hear a lot of the older OG’s, older than us, say, ‘I just feel like I’m on my own island.’ I don’t want that to have to keep happening. I want girls to work together more, help each other, have a place after the game where they can continue to build, have a community grow and where they can continue to make money.

“I don’t want to see any WNBA players struggling financially when you’re a pro athlete.”

Words of a Legend. An Icon.


W.G. Ramirez is a 36-year veteran sports reporter in Southern Nevada, serving as a correspondent for Athletes Unlimited. Follow him on Twitter at @WillieGRamirez

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