BASKETBALL IN EUROPE
|FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year Emma Meesseman is the most recent signing of EuroLeague Women powerhouse Sparta&K|
Sparta&K M. R. Vidnoje have captured one of the biggest prizes in women's basketball by signing FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year Emma Meesseman on a four-year contract.
The 1.92m Belgian center, who only turned 19 last month, spent the past two seasons on the books of Lotto Young Cats in the EuroCup Women.
She was the most valuable player in the U18 European Championship last year in Romania after leading her side to the title with averages of 16.9 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 3.2 steals.
Meesseman will not play for Sparta&K immediately, however.
The terms of the deal allow her to continue her university studies at VUB in Brussels while playing for a club close to her home.
Sparta&K general manager Steve Costalas, who stressed that the Sparta&K philosophy is that studies are also important, said to FIBA Europe: "Since the first time back in 2009 when I saw Emma, I wanted to make her part of the Sparta&K family.
"She has always impressed me off and on the court.
"For her on-court skills, there is no doubt. She is as talented as a player her age can be and she is constantly improving and raising the bar.
"Off the court, she is a sweet girl who loves her family and who wants to further her studies while playing basketball.
"That's why we've agreed that while studying, she will play near her home and later on join us fully focused."
Meesseman is the third FIBA Europe Young Player of the Year to joining Sparta&K.
Sonja Petrovic of Serbia and Nika Baric of Slovenia also won the award and are on the books of the four-time EuroLeague Women champions.
Meesseman is elated about the contract.
"Thanks to Sparta&K for the confidence that they are giving me to sign a long-term contract," she said.
"This is a great opportunity as well as a real challenge.
"I will do everything I can to reach the big targets set by my new club.
"I would especially like to thank my new club for allowing me to play in a team closer to home so that I may continue my university courses and by the same way get my bachelors diploma."
The executive general director of Sparta&K, Anna Arkhipova von Kalmanovic, loves the deal for both parties.
"Emma Meesseman is one of the most talented young players in the world," Arkhipova said.
"The only thing I love more than her basketball skills is her being a young woman who knows what she wants, which is to further her studies while continuing playing close by her home.
Sparta&K coach Pokey Chatman is currently in America coaching and working as the general manager of the Chicago Sky.
"I'm ecstatic about the signing of a young talented player, but also another quality young lady that will join our Spartak "family"," she said in a statement.
"Her talents are sure to keep us among the elite clubs in the world.
"I also have to give credit to our front office for a job well done!"