Aliyah Boston, Rhyne Howard part of WNBA's Player Marketing Agreements

NEW YORK -- The WNBA is using some fresh faces in its Player Marketing Agreement cohort this season.

The league's past two Rookie of the Year winners, Aliyah Boston of Indiana and Rhyne Howard of Atlanta, are two of the six players chosen this offseason to take part in the program. They are joined by Washington's Shakira Austin, Connecticut's Brionna Jones, Seattle's Jewell Loyd and Dallas' Arike Ogunbowale.

"I think it's a great turning point," Austin said while taking part in a photo shoot in New York. "For them to recognize the younger players who are continuing to do what they do and get the respect they deserve as well it's great. It's an amazing feeling, you know, being able to create my own legacy now and continue to put my face out there. Be one of the faces of the league and be able to stay here it's win-win for me."

Ogunbowale was the only returning player from last season's PMA group. She agreed with Austin that it's good to have younger stars as part of the program this year.

"They are new faces in the league, young faces that have a closer age to college so they'll bring more college fans," Ogunbowale said. "They have big fan bases that will definitely lead to more attention."

Players can make up to $250,000 each as they serve as brand ambassadors for the league and its partners that include Skims, Google and haircare company Mielle. The 2020 collective bargaining agreement requires the league to spend $1 million total on player marketing agreements per year. If the league doesn't meet that payout in one season, it gets carried over to the next season.

Ogunbowale was part of a Google ad last year that featured seven of the 10 players with marketing agreements. Being part of the PMA program offers the players an opportunity to supplement their WNBA incomes by staying in the U.S. and not going overseas to play.

"It's great to be able to rest my body," said Loyd, who had played overseas in the past.

Austin (hip) and Jones (Achilles) are still rehabbing injuries that sidelined them for the end of last season. Both said that they were recovering well and should be ready to go for the start of the 2024 season in May.

"Everything is going well," said Jones, who ruptured her right Achilles tendon in June. "On track to be on the court when the season starts."

She hopes that being part of the PMA program will increase not only her brand but also the visibility of the Connecticut Sun. While she is a free agent, Jones has really enjoyed her time with the Sun.

"I'm happy in Connecticut, but there's definitely things to explore. We're just taking it one day at a time."

Jones, Howard and Boston are all keeping close to basketball in the offseason. Jones and Howard are assistant coaches at Maryland and Florida respectively while Boston has been working as a commentator for the Big Ten Network.

"It was something where I wanted to stay around basketball and coach (Brenda) Frese had mentioned to me the possibility of coaching," Jones said. "I'm excited for it and enjoying it. It's been great so far."

Boston has really enjoyed her time talking basketball on air.

"It's been a lot of fun and I've enjoyed it. I think it's really cool to do this and be on the other side of it," she said.

The Player Marketing Agreements first were used in the 2021-22 offseason with three players and then the league expanded to 10 players last year. Now there are six.