WNBA star Jewell Loyd talks 'The Future of Basketball is Female' campaign, growing women's basketball in US

Loyd also told Fox News Digital she hoped Brittney Griner got back safe

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Jewell Loyd is a three-time WNBA All-Star and two-time champion with the Seattle Storm, and she’s doing her part to grow women’s basketball in the U.S.

Loyd serves as an ambassador for the 94FeetofGame app, in which she co-owns with Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy. Earlier this month, the basketball skills and development app partnered with DJ Khaled and We The Best Foundation to launch the "Future of Basketball is Female" campaign, highlighting female basketball leaders for National Women’s History Month. 

The campaign also pledges 1,000 basketball scholarships to female youth nationwide.

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Brittney Griner (15) and Jewell Loyd (4) of Team USA celebrate a win against Team Australia during a women's basketball quarterfinals game at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Aug. 4, 2021, in Saitama, Japan.

Brittney Griner (15) and Jewell Loyd (4) of Team USA celebrate a win against Team Australia during a women's basketball quarterfinals game at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Aug. 4, 2021, in Saitama, Japan. (Getty Images)

With Brittney Griner being detained in Russia and the WNBA season approaching, Loyd told Fox News Digital in a recent interview that showing what female basketball players have to go through was one of the reasons she joined the campaign.

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Griner was arrested last month at a Moscow airport for allegedly having vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis. On Thursday, Russian state media reported her detention was extended until May 19. A person close to the situation confirmed to Fox News Digital that Griner was doing OK, and the center’s Russian legal team has seen her multiple times over the course of the week.

"Obviously, you want her back safe," Loyd said of Griner. "But overseas is overseas and that’s what the focus of this campaign also is — to (show) how much women have to go through and not having the choice to stay home. All of us play overseas, and I think understanding that we have great marketing and great talent here in the states and understand that we should be here and be able to play here. So that’s the focus as well. You get better at your craft.

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WNBA star Jewell Loyd, middle, launched The Future of Basketball is Female campaign. Juju Watkins, far left, Hailey Van Lith, left of Loyd, Isabella 'Jiggy Izzy' Escribano, right of Loyd, and Jamad Fiin joined her.

WNBA star Jewell Loyd, middle, launched The Future of Basketball is Female campaign. Juju Watkins, far left, Hailey Van Lith, left of Loyd, Isabella 'Jiggy Izzy' Escribano, right of Loyd, and Jamad Fiin joined her. (Future of Basketball is female Campaign)

"The market is growing, and (hopefully) we’re able to play here and not overseas and have another life over there. That’s also another reason why I wanted to join this campaign and make it better for the next generation of female athletes growing up. If they want to, they can, but they shouldn’t have to play overseas."

Loyd is one of the many WNBA stars who play in the U.S. league in the summer but abroad in the winter. She’s played on teams in Turkey, China and South Korea in the past and is currently playing for Perfumerias Avenida in Spain while she gears up in hopes of another championship run.

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Griner played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Women's Basketball Premier League for about seven years alongside other American women's basketball stars. Griner is paid better with UMMC Ekaterinburg and has had success with the team. She earns more than $1 million playing overseas, quadruple what she and some other top WNBA stars make as a base salary.

She’s a seven-time WNBA All-Star and one-time WNBA champion who is set to play her tenth season for the Phoenix Mercury this summer. Griner has also won two Olympic gold medals playing for Team USA. She’s played in Russia for nearly as long as she’s played in the WNBA. With UMMC Ekaterinburg, she’s a three-time Russian National League champion and four-time EuroLeague champion. She won a national championship in 2012 with Baylor University.

Highlighting female basketball players

Joining Loyd in 94FeetofGame's campaign is Louisville star Hailey Van Lith, top girls high school basketball athletes Juju Watkins and Boston Emmanuel College and viral Muslim basketball star Jamad Fiin.

Loyd told Fox News Digital she didn’t have anything like the app growing up.

"But when I grew up there was nothing like this, ever. It was always mixed, and you had the YMCA and things like that. There was nothing primarily just for females," Loyd said. "Not only just providing a platform but the engagement and resources to be great at your craft. This is super unique, and I’m super glad to be a part of it. And it is changing how people think about basketball, think about women athletes, and it’s super, super exciting."

Loyd also had advice for those looking to take their game to the next level, mentioning "time and place."

Jewell Loyd of the Seattle Storm during a WNBA game against the Phoenix Mercury Sept. 17, 2021, at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Wash.

Jewell Loyd of the Seattle Storm during a WNBA game against the Phoenix Mercury Sept. 17, 2021, at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Wash. (Getty Images)

"I think that’s a good concept to have, especially when you’re trying to make it to the next level," Loyd said. "There’s always a time and place to work on your craft, whether that’s five minutes in your basement dribbling or two minutes outside wherever you can.

"There’s always an opportunity to work on your craft, and that’s something that I think we kind of lose sight of — just the dedication and the time you have to put in. It doesn’t have to be four or five hours. But if you work 10 minutes a day at your craft, that could tremendously help your shooting or your dribbling or your knowledge of how to become a better passer."

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Loyd, a former No. 1 pick of the Storm, is entering her eighth season with the team. She averaged 17.9 points, 4 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game and is one of the top guards in the league.

Fox News' Paulina Dedaj and Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.