Azania Stewart comes out of retirement to join the Leicester Riders for the remaining 2020-21 WBBL Season.
Stewart commented “The coaches over at Leicester wanted some veteran presence to help the team and they took their chances with me. I know a lot of a league is upset because if they knew I was coming out of retirement maybe they would have called.”
“As the Covid Coordinator for GB seniors, I’m a practice player for the team to give players like Temi Fagbenle rest. I really enjoyed it and thought ‘wow, could I do this again’?”
The 2012 Olympian and Commonwealth Silver medalist earned a scholarship to attend the University of Florida. In her 4-year NCAA career she ranked third in blocks (205) and had the highest FG percentage in a single season (61.9%). She even contributed to the Gators reaching the NCAA Tournament as a Freshman and Senior.
The 6’4 centre had a six year professional career and took her talents to Spain, Australia, Hungary and Latvia. In her last season, she signed with TTT Riga in Latvia, where she played in the EuroCup league and averaged 9.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists.
Prior to retirement, Stewart finished up her decorative career with 101 caps for Great Britain basketball and a 83-42 win against Portugal in the women’s FIBA EuroBasket qualifier. She made her senior GB debut in 2009 but still has a significant impact on the team today.
Azania proudly represented her home nation during the 2012 Olympics. GB faced Australia, Canada, Russia, France and Brazil in London where Stewart averaged 4.4 points and 2.6 rebounds.
Stewart also brought her leadership and basketball expertise to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. She was part of history by winning a silver medal and helping England reach its first women’s Commonwealth basketball final.
“This opportunity called and it has to be for a reason” said Stewart. “There’s going to be a point in time when they stop calling as I get older. I told the coaches what I can offer the team and they already have a great establishment built.”
“The Riders are in a great position in the league, which takes the pressure off doing more than I need to do because of my age and not playing for three years. I know I can bring my veteran experience and basketball IQ to the team.”
“I’m excited to be back! I went to watch a Riders game and there were a lot of different emotions. Excitement, a bit of anxiousness, but overall I felt really good about my decision.“
Stewart is an inspiration to British basketball and we are happy that she has found a new home at Leicester. Welcome to the Riders Azania Stewart!
Photo credit: FIBA