Former Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears guard Talisa Rhea, who just completed her senior season on the Seattle University women’s basketball team, has been invited to play in China on an All-Star team sponsored by the United States Basketball Academy (USBA).
“It is an exciting time,” Rhea said. “Hopefully things are starting to fall into place. My goal is to be playing somewhere next year overseas. Hopefully from this trip when we play in another country, there will be coaches and scouts and what not attending. It will be a chance for me to be exposed a little bit more. I am not really sure what will come of it or if anything will. I don’t have huge or high expectations for it. I am more just excited to enjoy the experience. Hopefully there will be opportunities afterwards.”
The USBA team is comprised of graduating seniors from the United States and will be in China from Apr. 25 - May 9. During the 14-day tour, the team will play three games each in three different cities versus the Junior National Teams from China, Australia, and New Zealand, according to a press release from Seattle University.
This will be Rhea’s first international travel adventure, let alone her first experience playing basketball on the international stage.
“I have no idea what I want to do first,” Rhea said. “I am pretty sure it is going to be an amazing experience and I am not sure what to expect. I have been trying to look a few things up from here. This is my first trip overseas, anywhere, so I am really excited about it. I am going in with an open mind and open to everything and just going to play with a big smile on my face.”
The team’s first stop will be Qijiang, China, where they will first face New Zealand on Apr. 27, followed by Australia on Apr. 28, and China on Apr. 29. The next stop will be Zhong County, where they will face New Zealand on May 1, China on May 2, and Australia on May 3. The final stop will be Xiangyang, where they will play Australia on May 5, New Zealand on May 6, and China on May 7.
“I have heard a lot about the international experience and what it is like,” Rhea said. “For us, we will be representing the U.S. and will be doing some of the formal international stuff before the game. They make a pretty big deal of the teams. We will all walk out together. It will be really cool. And also just to experience the different changes in the way the different countries play.”
Rhea will be playing by International Basketball Federation, or FIBA, rules. Differences include: the three-point line is almost a foot farther out than college (20 feet six inches compared to 19’9) the key or lane is a trapezoid that widens from the free-throw line (12 feet wide) to the baseline (19 feet 8 inches wide) instead of a 12’ rectangle, playing time is four 10-minufree-throwrs as opposed to two 20-minute halves, the clock is stopped after made field goals in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and any extra period (college is last minute of second half and extra period), and a 24 second shot clock compared to 30 seconds.
“And its a different ball,” Rhea said. “There will be a little bit of an adjustment but hopefully it will go well.”
Seattle U head women’s basketball coach Joan Bonvicini stated that it was a tremendous opportunity and reward for Rhea.
“Playing on this All-Star team is a once in a lifetime experience and we are all so very proud of her,” Bonvicini said.
Chris Denker will coach the team, assisted by Ryan Johnson. Denker is a consultant to teams all over the world who scouts professional, collegiate, and international basketball to help teams find the best players. He has also previously served as the Head Coach and Director of Operations for the Eugene Chargers and spent 14 years as an NCAA women’s basketball head coach at Santa Clara and Colorado State.
“The decision to choose Talisa Rhea for this team was an easy one,” said Denker. “With an all-star team, the assumption is that all of the players can score to some degree, but we wanted players who made their teammates better, had versatile skills, an unselfish attitude, and who play some defense. From what I could gather in my research, that is Talisa in a nutshell.”
The other members of the team are as follows: Katie Bussey (Montana State), ReZina TecleMariam (University of Portland), Casey Garrison (Missouri State), Rebekah Gardner (UCLA), Jasmin Holliday (Oregon), Natalie Day (University of Portland), Jalana Childs (Kansas State), Rachael Hackbarth (Drake), and Kali Bennett (Arizona State).
The April 16 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft came and went without Rhea’s name being called. However, a number of players she competed against while setting records at Oregon State her first three seasons were selected to play professionally.
The Los Angeles Mystics took Stanford’s Nnemkadi Ogwumike first in the draft, Gonzaga’s Kayla Standish went 19th overall, Oregon’s Amanda Johnson was 33rd and USC’s Briana Gilbreath 35th.
“There were a few from the PAC-10 I had played against before,” Rhea said. “That was kind of cool to see. Obviously they are very good players who were drafted for a reason. It is exciting that you have played against them and competed against them, and that you possibly have that ability to do so again.”
After the all-star games overseas Rhea will return to Seattle and begin the process of finding a source of basketball employment.
“Hopefully I will be getting signed up with an agent and starting to try and figure all that out,” Rhea said. “Once I have an agent I will be trying to figure out where an opportunity may be to go play next year. I have had some contacts and talked to a few people, so when I get back I will be doing more with that.”
When asked if fans would be pronouncing her name in a foreign language Rhea said, “Most likely, but who knows where I will be. There are so many opportunities and so many countries. So it will be fun going through the process and ending up somewhere.”
Rhea said she would also like to get back to Juneau for a visit.
“I would love to make it up there at some point,” Rhea said. “I am just not sure if and when it could happen. It has been three or four years since I have been back, hopefully it will work out.”
As for the trip to China, when asked her prediction as to where her first basket would come from Rhea said, “I have no idea. Hopefully a layup, something easy you know.”