WNBA superstar Angel McCoughtry, who spent three seasons in Russia playing basketball, says she will NOT hoop in Russia anymore ... after Brittney Griner was held captive in a cell for nearly 10 months, and was only freed after a high-profile prisoner swap.
McCoughtry joined Babcock on the "TMZ Sports" TV show (airs weekdays on FS1) ... and reflected on the release of 32-year-old Griner, Angel's friend and former Team USA Olympic teammate in 2016 (they won gold).
"Oh my gosh, today is a celebration. Brittney is back, she's on solid ground," Angel told us, elated ... adding, "Knowing Brittney, she's a big teddy bear. Her personality is so bubbly. I couldn't imagine the conditions she's gone through."
Of course, in August, Brittney was sentenced to 9 years in a prison labor camp after a Russian court convicted her of bringing hash oil into the country. That was until Thursday, when she was released in a prisoner swap for notorious arms dealer, Viktor Bout, also known as the "Merchant of Death."
Speaking about the conditions in Russia, Angel described her experience ... and she obviously wasn't under arrest or in a cell, and it was still difficult.
"I couldn't imagine the conditions she's gone through. I played in Russia for three years, and that was probably one of the hardest places I had to play."
"It was hard to make friends. People are introverted because of the weather. The sun doesn't come out. So, it's already kind of depressing being there, playing there. But, to be in that kind of environment, I'm so glad she's back. What an amazing feeling to wake up to that."
McCoughtry, the former #1 overall pick in the 2009 WNBA Draft, 2x WNBA scoring champ, and 5x All-Star, just to name a few accolades, spent two stints with Dynamo Kursk of the Russian Premiere League.
Many players travel overseas during the WNBA off-season because they can earn significantly more money than they do in America ... though the future is now uncertain.
"I mean, it's tough on us cause Russia was one of the places where we made the most money. I was making my WNBA salary in one month in Russia. My whole salary. I think girls are gonna go elsewhere and play, probably."
"We still have Spain and Istanbul, Turkey, different places, but, it definitely takes a toll on our game cause Russia, that was a place that had a lot of money for women to play, so it definitely hurts our game."
As for whether Angel would ever go back to Russia ... we asked the question with an obvious answer.
"No, I would not go back. I would not go back."
McCoughtry also talks about Griner's prospective return to professional basketball in the States, when she plans to reach out to BG, and much more.