As a couple of recent graduates, former Charlotte 49ers Jennifer Hailey and Amanda Dowe want to go far with their professional basketball careers.
While the WNBA is their ultimate goal, geographically speaking, they can’t go much farther than they already have.
Hailey and Dowe are playing professionally in Europe this season, hoping to take a crack at the WNBA next year.
Hailey is a member of CUS Cagliari, which plays in the Italy A-1 league. Dowe is playing in Spain for Uni Girona, a team in the Liga Femenina.
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Both of them will cross the Atlantic during the Christmas break to visit family and friends in North Carolina. Hailey is from Marshville; Dowe’s hometown is Tabor City.
“The season is going well for me personally,” Hailey said. “ … It’s a big change from college basketball to professional basketball overseas. The season is going well for my team. We have a new coach, so we are doing better than we did last year.”
Dowe said, “Personally for me, the season is going well … I am still learning and getting better, and trying to improve in areas that aren’t my strongest. I’m shooting the ball but not taking a lot of shots, which I’ve been told I need to do more of. So I’m working on that.”
Both players left for Europe around the end of August and are about 10 games into their respective seasons.
Hailey averages 12.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game as a starting power forward. CUS Cagliari is in the middle of the 12-team league’s standings.
The same can be said of Dowe’s Uni Girona team with respect to its league. Dowe is playing center, a move from playing her past position of power forward, and is averaging 5.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Hailey and Dowe are still making adjustments to new styles of play and the cultural differences of their surroundings. Dowe said she is getting used to more physical players and referees quickly blowing whistles on traveling calls.
The players are also enjoying touring some of Europe’s historic cities.
Hailey’s team is based in Cagliari, a city on the Italian island of Sardinia, but she has visited such mainland cities as Rome and Lucca, and the Sicilian city of Ragusa. Dowe lives about an hour from Barcelona and has traveled all over Spain.
Culturally, the things Hailey and Dowe miss most about America are friends, family and food. Getting used to spending euros instead of dollars has been a challenge, too.
“I’m not saying the food here is bad,” Dowe said. “It’s actually a lot healthier here, because everything is fresh and isn’t processed. But it just tastes different.”
Dowe started her stay by rooming with an American player who later left the team. Hailey lives with an American teammate Adrienne Johnson, who played college ball at Louisana Tech.
Hailey also had the opportunity to play against former Charlotte 49ers teammate Shannon McCallum, a member of Reyer Venezia Mestre. McCallum averaged 30 points per game playing in Iceland last year.
Charlotte coach Cara Consuegra said she has already heard from a woman who conducts a combine in the spring – which is attended by WNBA scouts – who would like Hailey and Dowe to attend the event.
Consuegra said pursuing a professional career overseas is almost a yearlong process. She said she talks with players before their final season to discuss their goals and again after the season to solidify their plans. That includes finding the right agent, who will then “shop them to their different contacts in Europe.”
Consuegra said this year that she has already had a preliminary conversation with 49ers senior point guard Ny Hammonds, a Concord High graduate.
“I think she absolutely has a chance,” Consuegra said. “The thing about her is she’s small (5 feet 5 inches), and that’s always been a knock about her. They like bigger players in Europe. But she has all the ability to go over there and be a great point guard.”
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