By NYAH TENNELL
Any bonafide basketball fan, men’s or women’s, college or professional, would have difficulty overlooking the recent wave of international players relocating to the United States to further pursue their careers.
According to the National Basketball Association, for example, the number of foreign-born players in the NBA’s professional league has more than doubled to 100, since 2000-01, when there were only 45 international players in the league.
Although these statistics solely represent the data of the NBA and not college basketball, it is fair to reason that basketball in the United States as a whole, is definitely impacted and advanced by decisions and transitions made at the top, the top being the highest grossing basketball industry in the United States, the NBA.
The increase of foreign-born basketball players migrating to the United States is not just limited to the professional league, and as of Sept. 1, USbasket.com has identified 3,428 college and professional international players who have played basketball in the United States in the last five years.
The ACC, Big 10, Atlantic Coast Conference, SEC and Pac-12 for example, have all witnessed an increase in international players on their rosters and at the University of Miami, the women’s basketball team has recruited a record-high of four international players for the 2016-17 season.
So, why the more recent influx of international players?
In a 2014 interview with sports journalist, Connor Riley, ESPN college basketball analyst, and international player expert Fran Fraschilla cites the 1992 Olympic Dream Team as part of the reason for the influx of foreign talent.
“The impact of that team has been felt from the high school level all the way to the NBA. We’ve seen a rise in internationals because of them, Fraschilla added.
Adrienne Motley, team captain and senior Lady Hurricane from Newport News, Va., agreed.
“International recruiting is big in basketball, period. Getting players from different states as well as overseas,” Motley said. “I believe that coach wanted to include a diverse group of players to add more depth and energy to the team dynamic as a whole.”
However, with diversity comes some degree of required adjustment for international players, whether that adjustment be to new surroundings, language, or simply to a different style or tempo that their new team may introduce.
“Although I think Laura and Emese had to get over our basketball terms and court language, like stuff within our offense or defense, they came in with good attitudes and are both hardworking, so they caught on quickly,” Motley added.
Quickly may not even be a suffice term given that Laura Cornelius produced tremendous numbers last season during her first year as a Lady Hurricane, leading the team in three-point percentages (42.3) and finishing third in three-pointers made (47).
Cornelius’ co-star, Emese Hof, also posted record numbers her freshman year, leading the 2015-16 team with the fourth-best single-season field goal percentage in program history (54.2), as well as racking up 42 blocked shots, which ranked her second among ACC freshmen.
“Regardless of school and sport, coaches all over the United States go where the talent is, whether that be Miami-Dade County or Europe,” Alex Schwartz, assistant director of Athletic Communications, said.
The fundamentals, discipline and dedication placed in great women’s basketball players worldwide makes overseas, and even national recruiting a huge catch to scouts looking globally for the best, well-rounded talent.
“Of course there is more of an adjustment period, when you aren’t only adjusting to a new school, but a new country,” Schwartz said. “However, one thing that is great about Miami is that it is such international city, and our foreign-born athletes usually don’t have too much difficulty. There are people from all over the world here.”
With the addition of a 6-foot-6-inch freshman powerhouse from Belgium, and a 6-foot-1-inch freshman guard from Denmark, along with the two returning Netherlands natives, Cornelius and Hof, this is a record breaking year for the Lady Hurricanes who have 14 members in total on this season’s roster.