WNBA star Breanna Stewart suffers possible Achilles injury while playing in Europe

Less than a month ahead of the start of the WNBA’s preseason, one of the league’s brightest stars could be out for the year with a devastating injury.

Reigning 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm suffered an apparent leg injury Sunday while playing for Dynamo Kursk, a Russian EuroLeague team. There’s no official diagnosis yet, but she is feared to have torn her right Achilles tendon.

In the final minute of the first half against UMMC Ekaterinburg, Stewart jumped to make a pass and landed on fellow WNBA star Brittney Griner's foot. Stewart immediately fell to the ground and clutched the back of right leg.

Stewart has quickly risen to become one of the WNBA’s biggest stars in just three seasons. After winning four national championships at UConn, she was drafted first overall in 2016 and won the WNBA MVP and WNBA Finals MVP in 2018.

With the WNBA regular season tipping off on May 24 and ending on September 8, an Achilles injury would certainly wipe out her 2019 campaign. These injuries typically take six months to a year to recover from, although most players do not return at the same level — if they return at all.

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WNBA 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart
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WNBA 2018 MVP Breanna Stewart
Breanna Stewart of the United States, right, tries to score as Jenna O'Hea of Australia blocks her during the Women's basketball World Cup final match between Australia and the U.S.A. in Tenerife, Spain, Sunday Sept. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Gutierrez)
Steph Talbot of Australia, right, jumps to shoot as Breanna Stewart of the United States tries to stop her during the Women's basketball World Cup final match between Australia and the U.S.A. in Tenerife, Spain, Sunday Sept. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Gutierrez)
Breanna Stewart of the United States, left, and Steph Talbot of Australia fight for the ball during the Women's basketball World Cup final match between Australia and the U.S.A. in Tenerife, Spain, Sunday Sept. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Gutierrez)
Breanna Stewart of the United States, left, jumps to shoot as Steph Talbot of Australia tries to stop her during the Women's basketball World Cup final match between Australia and the U.S.A. in Tenerife, Spain, Sunday Sept. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Gutierrez)
Tess Madgen of Australia, right, tries to score as Breanna Stewart of the United States blocks her during the Women's basketball World Cup final match between Australia and the U.S.A. in Tenerife, Spain, Sunday Sept. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Gutierrez)
Seattle Storm's Breanna Stewart, right, holds a broom as she stands with Crystal Langhorne, left as they celebrate with fans after the Storm swept the Washington Mystics to win the 2018 WNBA basketball championship, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Storm center forward Breanna Stewart greets fans as she carries the trophy for the 2018 WNBA basketball championship into KeyArena for a fan rally following a team parade, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Storm center forward Breanna Stewart reacts as she is introduced at a fan rally to celebrate the Storm winning the 2018 WNBA basketball championship, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Seattle. Stewart was named the league MVP for the 2018 season. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Storm players (from left) Crystal Langhorne, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Sue Bird, and Breanna Stewart celebrate with fans during a rally to honor the Storm for winning the 2018 WNBA basketball championship, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart reacts out to feel rain drops during a shower that took place during a parade to celebrate the Storm winning the 2018 WNBA basketball championship, Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, file photo, from left, Seattle Storm's Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart celebrate during the first half of Game 3 of the WNBA basketball finals against the Washington Mystics in Fairfax, Va. It’s been a whirlwind week for the trio. Win a WNBA championship with the Storm and then dash off to play for USA Basketball in the FIBA Women’s World Cup. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart (30) hugs teammate Sue Bird (10) on the court after winning Game 3 of the WNBA basketball finals, Wednesday, Sept. 18 2018, in Fairfax, Va. The Seattle Storm defeated the Washington Mystics 98-82. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart (30) goes to the basket uncontested as Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne, far left, watches during the second half of Game 3 of the WNBA basketball finals, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Fairfax, Va. Also seen is Storm forward Natasha Howard (6). The Storm won 98-82 and the title. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne, center, battles for the ball against Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart (30) during the second half of Game 3 of the WNBA basketball finals, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Fairfax, Va. Also seen is Storm guard Jordin Canada (21). The Storm won 98-82 and the title.(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart poses with the finals mvp trophy and the WNBA championship trophy after Game 3 of the WNBA basketball finals against the Washington Mystics, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Fairfax, Va. The Storm won 98-82 and the title. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart, right center, celebrates and hugs guard Sue Bird (10) after Game 3 of the WNBA basketball finals as members of the Washington Mystics walk by, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Fairfax, Va. The Storm won 98-82 and the title. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart holds and poses with the trophy with her teammates after Game 3 of the WNBA basketball finals against the Washington Mystics, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Fairfax, Va. The Storm won 98-82 and the title. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart, back, holds the ball against Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne (11) during the first half of Game 3 of the WNBA basketball finals, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Fairfax, Va. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart (30) shoots against Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne (11) during the first half of Game 3 of the WNBA basketball finals, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, in Fairfax, Va. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 5: Breanna Stewart #30 of the Seattle Storm is seen at the game between the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings during a pre-season game on October 5, 2018 at KeyArena in Seattle, Washington. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 5: Sue Bird #10, and Breanna Stewart #30 of the Seattle Storm talk with media during a pre-season game between the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings on October 5, 2018 at KeyArena in Seattle, Washington. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
NEWPORT BEACH, CA - OCTOBER 3: Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm speaks on the WNBA Excellence panel at the espnW Summit held at Resort at Pelican Hill on October 3, 2018 in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
NEWPORT BEACH, CA - OCTOBER 3: Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm stands for photos at the espnW Summit held at Resort at Pelican Hill on October 3, 2018 in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
NEWPORT BEACH, CA - OCTOBER 3: Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm and Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks pose for photos at the espnW Summit held at Resort at Pelican Hill on October 3, 2018 in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
NEWPORT BEACH, CA - OCTOBER 3: Breanna Stewart stands for photos at the espnW Summit held at Resort at Pelican Hill on October 3, 2018 in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
NEWPORT BEACH, CA - OCTOBER 3: Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm and Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks speak on the WNBA Excellence panel with Sarah Spain at the espnW Summit held at Resort at Pelican Hill on October 3, 2018 in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
NEWPORT BEACH, CA - OCTOBER 3: Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm and Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks speak on the WNBA Excellence panel with Sarah Spain at the espnW Summit held at Resort at Pelican Hill on October 3, 2018 in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
US' center Breanna Stewart (L) vies with Belgium's forward Antonia Delaere during the FIBA 2018 Women's Basketball World Cup semifinal match between Belgium and United States at the Santiago Martin arena in San Cristobal de la Laguna on the Canary island of Tenerife on September 29, 2018. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP) (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
TENERIFE, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 28: Breanna Stewart #10 of the USA National Team gets taped before the game against Nigeria during the Quarterfinals of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup at Pabellon de Deportes de Tenerife Santiago Martin on September 28, 2018 in San Cristobal de La Laguna, Spain. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE. (Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE via Getty Images)
TENERIFE, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 28: Breanna Stewart #10 of the USA National Team gets taped before the game against Nigeria during the Quarterfinals of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup at Pabellon de Deportes de Tenerife Santiago Martin on September 28, 2018 in San Cristobal de La Laguna, Spain. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE. (Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE via Getty Images)
TENERIFE, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 27: Breanna Stewart #10 of the USA National Team warms up before practice during the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup at Pabellon de Deportes de Tenerife Santiago Martin on September 28, 2018 in San Cristobal de La Laguna, Spain. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE. (Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Why is Stewart playing in the EuroLeague?

Even as one of the most successful WNBA players, it’s common — if not expected — for many WNBA players to play overseas in addition to the 34-game regular season schedule.

WNBA players have a max salary of $113,500, which is nearly eight times smaller than the NBA minimum. Meanwhile, Stewart is slated to make less than the average WNBA salary (around $75,000) because she is still on her rookie contract.

This leads to players having a nearly year-round schedule, which is not conducive to maintaining ideal health. Although there’s no easy solution, devastating injuries like these would be less common if players had more time off between seasons.

Other WNBA players reach out to Stewart

Plenty of WNBA players and coaches reached out after hearing the news about Stewart’s injury. Here’s a quick look at what several had to say:

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