Brittney Griner

When the FIBA World Cup begins in Sydney, Australia on Oct. 1, Team USA will be without one of its star players as center Brittney Griner continues to be detained in Russia after she was found guilty on drug charges and is now serving a nine-year sentence. Since Griner is still not back despite ongoing negotiations between the United States and Russia, Team USA will be honoring Griner in a unique way.

With Griner still imprisoned, Team USA will not allow any other player to wear Griner’s No. 15 jersey until she returns home. The team will also honor Griner as they take the court for the FIBA World Cup next month.

“No one on Team USA wears No. 15 other than two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Brittney Griner. USA Basketball will honor BG as they take the court in Sydney at the World Cup. No. 15 will stay reserved until BG is back home,” the Pheonix Mercury said in a statement.

The U.S. and Russia have been engaged in negotiations for quite a while. Though Griner was found guilty in Russia, the entire legal process was largely considered a sham with the goal of enticing negotiations for a prisoner swap that could see the basketball star and Whelan returned home for Russians currently held in U.S. prisons.

Griner has now been in Russian custody for over 200 days, but it is expected that there could be a resolution soon.

[Phoenix Mercury]