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Renee Montgomery, Tiffany Hayes opt out of 2020 WNBA season

The two Dream teammates are the first two UConn players to opt out of the W’s bubble league in Bradenton, Florida.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Last week, the WNBA announced its plan to hold a 22-game regular season and playoffs in Bradenton, Florida. However, the two former UConn stars on the Atlanta Dream won’t be participating as Renee Montgomery and Tiffany Hayes both announced their intention to opt out of the season.

Montgomery isn’t sitting out due to health concerns — though she did say those played a factor — but in continued pursuit of social justice reform in the wake of nationwide protests.

“There’s work to be done off the court in so many areas in our community,” Montgomery said in a tweet. “Social justice reform isn’t going to happen overnight but I do feel that now is the time and moments equal momentum.”

Hayes, meanwhile, feels it best to put her focus on something other than basketball right now.

“After much thought and consideration, I have decided to opt of the out of the 2020 season,” Hayes said in a release. “This was not an easy decision but I believe it is in my best interest with everything going on right now. Although I love playing this game, I believe there are much more important things to be thinking about in this moment.”

Players have until June 25 to inform their respective teams if they will play this season or not.

Montgomery has been active in Atlanta supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath of upheaval following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. She’s been in the thick of things handing out water and has raised over $9,000 through her foundation to give water, food and other supplies to protestors.

Though numerous players have already decided to sit out the 2020 season, Montgomery is the first to opt-out following the announcement of the WNBA’s Bradenton plan. Players have until June 25 to inform their respective teams if they will play.

Hayes and Montgomery are the second and third former Huskies to sit out the season, joining Maya Moore, who is in the second year of a sabbatical from basketball.

Moore stepped away from the game in order to fight for criminal justice reform, particularly to secure the release of Jonathan Irons, who was wrongly convicted for burglary and assaulting a homeowner with a gun during a break-in back in 1997. In March, a judge overturned Irons’ conviction and even though the case is far from over, it’s a big win toward securing his freedom.

Hayes has spent all eight years of her WNBA career with the Dream, where she has become the franchise’s all-time leader in three-pointers (both attempted and made) and ranks second in points in the team’s history.

Last season, Montgomery averaged 9.5 points and 2.6 assists in 34 games — her 11th in the W and her second with the Dream.

We will continue to update this page as more decisions from former UConn players come in.