SportsWomen's Basketball

Foreign freshmen set for big season ahead for Oregon women’s basketball

Oregon women’s basketball is no stranger to international players featured in key roles in its lineup for years. This season, the team is deeper than ever with international talent as they added two top-tier players from Europe and Australia, who are expected to play big roles on this year’s team.

The Latest International Player Rankings on rate freshmen Satou Sabally at No. 1, Anneli Maley at No. 6 and Aina Ayuso at No. 10. No other school in the country has three top-tier international players as freshmen on their roster.

Sabally (Germany) and Ayuso (Spain) were some of the biggest names in Europe’s youth basketball scene, and freshman Australian Maley has added more height and rebounding presence.

Sabally, who committed to Oregon last November, was born in New York City but moved to Germany as a child and grew up playing basketball in Berlin. She played for Eisvögel USC Freiburg, a professional team that competes across Europe. Sabally is still an amateur and NCAA eligible because she chose not to receive a salary, according to ESPN.

At 6-foot-4, Sabally is the third-tallest player on the team. She should be able to score and rebound efficiently as a forward or center. She has experience playing guard as well, so don’t be surprised if head coach Kelly Graves plays her there during games.

Spanish guard Aina Ayuso was the first commitment for Oregon’s 2017 class. She played for Spain in the 2015 U16 European championships and led the team in scoring at 9.7 points per game.

One of the top freshmen guards in Europe, Ayuso averaged 13 points per game and 4.8 rebounds for Segle XXI, where current Oregon guard Maite Cazorla played.

Ayuso said that Cazorla was a key part of her decision to commit to Oregon. “Maite has always been someone I looked up to,” Ayuso told The Daily Emerald last year when she committed. “She’s the best guard I have ever played with.”

Anneli Maley is no stranger to the spotlight; she played for four years on Australia’s national stage. She played on the U16 through U19 teams and won the 2014 FIBA Oceania U18 Championship, averaging 10.2 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Maley has basketball in her genes. Her father, Paul Maley, played professional basketball in Australia, a path that Anneli followed. She played half the 2016-17 season in the Women’s National Basketball League for the Adelaide Lightning.

Maley’s U19 National Team beat Cazorla and her Spanish team at the 2015 FIBA Women’s World Championship third-place game.

At 6-foot-2, Maley’s height is a huge bonus for Oregon, which will need size in the frontcourt.

“I think she was widely considered the best player her age in Australia,” Graves told The Oregonian when Maley committed in April. “And if you fit that bill, you are going to be considered one of the best in the world.”

Follow August Howell on Twitter @Howell_August

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August Howell

August Howell