If you ever needed proof that recruiting at the collegiate level isn’t for the faint of heart, look no further than the Portland State women’s basketball team. With a roster overturned by graduation, head coach Sherri Murrell and her staff knew they had an offseason full of travel ahead of them, with the need to replace at least five players for the upcoming season.
So naturally they headed to Germany. Huh?
Not exactly a basketball hotbed, but Murrell and her staff may have found a gem. Nele Aha, a member of the 2011 under-16 German National Team and the 2013 under-18 team, has signed on to be the newest member of the Vikings squad.
Murrell told GoViks.com, “[Aha] brings to our program a ton of international experience competing at a very high level of play. She is an extremely smart player with exceptional passing abilities and athleticism. She has the potential to be an immediate impact, not only for our team, but also in our conference.”
At 5 feet 7 inches, Aha brings good size to the point guard position, where she will join a young roster looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2013–14 season, in which they went 8–21, including 6–14 in the Big Sky.
Under the play of Aha, the under-16 team won the European Championship in the B Division. She was also part of the BG 74 Göttingen team in the Women’s 2 Bundesliga, the second-highest league in Germany, where she played under Washington State graduate Jennifer Kerns.
“I want to thank [Aha’s] coach Jennifer Kerns, parents Biggi and Olli Aha and Viking assistant coach Jennifer Mountain for all the work they put into helping make [Aha’s] dream of playing Division I basketball come true,” said Murrell who, along with Aha, has brought in four other new players this offseason.
Three freshmen, including Aha, will make their way to Portland: Shelby Sanders, Cici West and Aha. Junior Alicia Carline, a 6-foot-3-inch center, and sophomore Danah Haley, a 6-foot-0-inch forward, will also be part of the 2014 Vikings squad.
PSU did end the season on a bit of a high note, winning two of their last three, and look to turn that into a rejuvenated 2014 campaign. They will boast only four seniors out of the 12 players on the roster, and will look to their youthful exuberance as a driving force.
PSU hasn’t had a winning season since 2011–12, when they went 15–14. Let’s hope these new recruits help turn that around.