Juneau’s Talisa Rhea went to Denver last spring to learn how to be a coach.
But she came away with a Euroleague contract.
The 23-year-old guard has inked a deal with Polish power Gdynia, a 2-time Euroleague finalist and reigning runner-up in the country’s premier league. She leaves at the end of August.
“I think I’m ready,” she told me. “I’m definitely excited about another level of basketball, traveling and seeing the world.
“I think it’s going to be real good.”
The 5-foot-11 playmaker was a real good college player, scoring 1,664 career points with Seattle University and Oregon State University before graduating this year.
As a senior she averaged 14.1 points, 5.2 assists and 4.5 rebounds in 32 games and led Seattle U. to the semifinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational.
After the season, Rhea went to the Women’s NCAA Final Four in Denver, where was enrolled in the ‘So you want to be a coach’ program.
That same weekend she was invited to participate in a pro combine.
“I only did one workout that first morning,” she said. “They saw me there and got in touch with my agent and it went from there.”
She played little basketball. She ran the 40. She did the vertical jump, an agility drill and some shooting drills.
“It wasn’t a typical workout for myself,” she said. “It was like the NFL Combine.”
The Polish team saw enough to offer Rhea a contract almost immediately.
“It was the first offer I got and I took it because when I talked to my agent she said it was really slow and she wasn’t sure how many other offers I would get and where it would be,” she said.
“Poland is a pretty respected country overseas basketball wise, so this is a good opportunity. I took it without waiting around to see what else I could get. The team is really good. They are in the Euroleague.”