Washington Mystics forward Emma Meesseman will miss the 2018 WNBA season to rest and focus on playing with the Belgium national team, Mystics General Manager and Coach Mike Thibault announced Wednesday. The 24-year-old is set to return in 2019.

The Mystics’ announcement comes the day before WNBA teams can officially start signing free agents.

“Emma has played year-round for almost six consecutive years, without time to rest her body from the wear and tear that results from that kind of schedule,” Thibault said in a statement. “In addition, Emma feels that her national team preparation in August and September, ahead of the 2018 World Cup of Basketball, is a priority for her at this point in her career. We are sorry that Emma will not be with us this season, but we have been preparing for this possibility for a while.”

Meesseman’s absence will is a critical blow to a Mystics team that advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first year since 2002 last season thanks to a restructured roster that featured Meesseman, Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver as central figures. Delle Donne and Toliver both are under contract for the 2018 season.

Meeseeman was the second-leading scorer in 2017 behind Delle Donne (14.1 points per game), grabbed the third-most rebounds (5.7 per game) and played the third-most minutes (28.4 per game) in 23 games, the first season of her career in which she didn’t play a full schedule. The Belgian national missed over a month of the Mystics’ season in 2017 while leading Belgium to a bronze medal in the European women’s basketball championship.

Meesseman, a 2015 all-star, has been a key player for the Mystics since Thibault selected her with the 19th overall pick in the 2013 WNBA draft. One of the most promising young players in the league that year, Meesseman proved her stamina and went on to play in all 34 games in each of the first four seasons of her career. She became a full-time starter in 2014 and was the core of a lean Mystics roster until Delle Donne and Toliver arrived in the offseason last year.

Meesseman signed a contract extension in March 2016 to stay in Washington through the 2019 season.