LSU women’s basketball head coach Kim Mulkey says she hasn’t spoken to Brittney Griner since Griner was released from a Russian prison and returned to the United States.
However, Mulkey had a message for his former Baylor Bears players.
«I’m glad he’s back,» Mulkey said during his Final Four press conference, according to The Associated Press, on Thursday. «I’m glad she’s safe, healthy. I think everyone is.»
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Griner was brought up not only because of her Baylor connection, but Mulkey didn’t share any words of support for the WNBA star when she was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia on drug-related charges.
Mulkey was asked last fall about the Griner situation, and a reporter noted that the media had yet to hear his take on the matter.
«And you won’t,» Mulkey said at the time.
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Griner was eventually released from Russia after a prisoner exchange, and Mulkey made a statement via ESPN, saying she was relieved to return home.
«God is good. Prayers are powerful,» Mulkey said. «Brittney is on her way home, where she belongs to her. Our prayers remain with her and her family as they recover and heal together.»
Mulkey spent 21 years as Baylor’s head coach, beginning with the 2000-01 season. Griner arrived in 2009-10, and the 6-foot-8 center quickly built the Bears into a formidable team at 18.4 points per game in his freshman season.
During his junior year in 2011-12, Baylor went a perfect 40-0 to win the national championship, becoming the first team to accomplish that feat. Griner averaged 23.2 points and 9.5 rebounds that year.
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Griner was drafted first overall by the Phoenix Mercury in 2013 after playing her senior season, but once she left Baylor, she criticized Mulkey.
Griner claimed that Mulkey forced her to keep her sexual orientation private during her time with the Bears because it could hurt the school’s recruiting of new talent.
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As Mulkey prepares for LSU’s Final Four appearance against Virginia Tech on Friday night, Griner continues to plan for her return to the WNBA.