When will Nika Muhl play for the Seattle Storm? Behind the visa issue sidelining the former UConn star

Caitlin Clark, Cameron Brink and Angel Reese have all made their WNBA regular-season debuts, but one former college star remains sidelined as the season gets underway.

Storm rookie Nika Muhl isn’t yet eligible to play, leaving the team without its second-round pick after her impressive career at UConn.

Muhl gained a large following during her time with the Huskies, emerging as a defensive weapon for coach Geno Auriemma
. A two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Muhl averaged just 6.9 points per game as a senior but consistently impacted the game as a passer and defender in a way that appealed to WNBA teams.

Here’s what you need to know about Muhl’s status and when she’s expected back on the court to make her WNBA debut. 

MORE: Can Caitlin Clark be an All-Star in her WNBA rookie season?

Why isn’t Nika Muhl playing?

Visa issues are keeping Muhl off the court, despite the rookie being in the U.S. and with the team.

Muhl was able to play basketball at UConn on a student visa, but the process changes for her now that she is no longer a student. Muhl is from Croatia and didn’t arrive in the U.S. until she began her college career with the Huskies.

Muhl was able to play in the preseason on her student visa, appearing in one game and playing well off the bench with six points, three rebounds and two assists on 2-of-3 shooting. Not all second-round picks play right away, if they make the final roster at all, but Muhl’s defensive tenacity always made it likely she could step right in and play a role for Seattle.

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As the Storm await word on Muhl’s availability, they are as uncertain as everyone else, it seems. Seattle posted a video of Muhl captioned, “Ready for her debut,” ahead of Tuesday’s season opener, only for her to be forced to sit out. That tells you how little control Muhl or the team has over the situation at the moment.

Muhl certainly seemed ready when she entered the venue Tuesday, so she figures to be ready the moment her work visa is approved.

When will Nika Muhl play for the Seattle Storm?

Muhl has missed the first two gams of the season for Seattle. She can play as early as Sunday against the Mystics if her visa is approved by that point, but whether that actually happens is still up in the air.

The situation appears to be totally out of the hands of the Storm, with Muhl simply awaiting government approval on her work visa. As soon as she’s cleared, she is expected to be ready to play.

MORE: How Sun shut down Caitlin Clark in WNBA debut

Seattle Storm upcoming schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)
May 19 at Mystics 3 p.m.
May 20 at Liberty 7 p.m.
May 22 vs. Fever 10 p.m.
May 25 vs. Mystics 9 p.m.

It would be surprising to see Muhl’s absence extend much longer, but even one more week on the sidelines would force her to miss four games.

Seattle’s third game of the season against Washington continues a three-game road trip that continues Monday against the Liberty in New York. The franchise’s next home game comes Wednesday against Caitlin Clark and the Fever.

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