A Pac-12 women’s basketball coach isn’t likely to misplace his or her passport.
As talent levels abroad improve and technology bridges the gap between coaches and recruits, more and more international players are considering the Pac-12.
Next year, two of the three Oregon women’s basketball signees come from the international ranks: Lauren Yearwood of Victoria, British Columbia and Maite Cazorla of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
“The coaching over there is great,” Graves said. “Not to say it’s not great here. Look at the NBA. Look at the influx of European players. They’re skilled and they know how to play the team game.”
The Ducks have two international players on their current roster: Jacinta Vandenberg (Melbourne, Australia) and Marie Beruthuel (Nice, France).
Vandenberg — originally recruited by Fresno State — said the process becomes easier with more access to technology, specifically Skype and email.
“I’ve noticed just as Australians that we have a lot more younger girls coming in,” Vandenberg said. “I think that’s really cool. It’s always fun to be like, ‘Oh my gosh. I’m playing an Australian this weekend.'”
In Europe, economic slumps have led to lost revenue among professional teams, according to Xavi Lopez –who is a strength and conditioning coach for the Ducks and played professionally in Spain for six years. Usually, women in Europe sign professional contracts after leaving their clubs.
It’s a reason why Washington State currently has six players from abroad and Oregon State currently has three international players.
There’s also an adjustment on the court for Europeans playing collegiate basketball in the U.S. Lopez said European players are generally more cerebral and play with a higher basketball IQ, whereas basketball stateside is more physical and athletic.
“The experience that they get to have here is a dream for them,” Lopez said. “It’s a completely different system from what we have in Europe.”
Lopez said that while the language barrier can be difficult to overcome, all potential student-athletes must take the SAT test before enrolling. Generally, players from abroad have some English skills before stepping foot on campus.
During Graves’ final year at Gonzaga, four of his six signees were international.
“It’s easier to see them now,” Graves said of international players. “They’re traveling more. You can get information on YouTube. There’s scouting services now that specialize in oversees. The world is shrinking so there’s more opportunities to see those players.”
Vandenberg will be eligible to play for the Ducks next season. She transferred before the season and by NCAA requirement is sitting out the 2014-15 season. Last season, Vandenberg led Fresno State with 6.5 rebounds per game.
Vandenberg, who celebrated Australia Day on Jan. 26 has found a home in Eugene.
“It’s a little bit hard to be away from home, especially on big holidays,” she said. “But, you create your own family with your team.”
Follow Jonathan Hawthorne on Twitter @Jon_Hawthorne