With the addition of freshman center Serena-Lynn Geldof from Belgium and freshman guard Sarah Mortensen from Denmark, the Hurricanes women’s basketball team has now added four legitimate international players to its roster in the past two years. This includes the two returning Netherland-natives, sophomore guard Laura Cornelius and sophomore forward/center Emese Hof.
“Regardless of school and sport, coaches all over the United States go where the talent is, whether that be Dade County or Europe,” Assistant Director of Athletic Communications Alex Schwartz said.
There has been a recent wave of international players, both collegiate and professional, relocating to America to pursue their basketball careers.
According to the NBA, the number of foreign-born players in the league has more than doubled to 100 since the 2000-01 season, when there were only 45 international players in the league.
The increase of foreign-born basketball players migrating to the United States is not just limited to the professional league. As of Sept. 1, 2016, 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, SEC and Pac-12 have all witnessed an increase in international players in their conferences.
In a 2014 interview with ESPN college basketball analyst Connor Riley, international player expert Fran Fraschilla cites the 1992 Olympic Dream Team as part of the reason for the wave of foreign talent.
“The impact of that team has been felt from the high school level all the way to the NBA,” Fraschilla said. “We’ve seen a rise in internationals because of them.”
Senior guard and team captain Adrienne Motley from Newport News, Virginia, is all for the increase in foreign recruiting. She herself was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
“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 challenges for international players, including adjusting to new surroundings, a new language and the style and tempo of their new team.
“Although I think Laura and Emese had to go 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 said.
Cornelius produced tremendous numbers last season during her first year, leading the team in three-point percentage (42.3) and finishing third in three-pointers made (47).
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.
The fundamentals, discipline and dedication of the many talented basketball players worldwide makes overseas recruiting a huge catch to scouts looking globally for the best, well-rounded athletes.
“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 an international city, and our foreign-born athletes usually don’t have too much difficulty. There are people from all over the world here.”