Netherlands: Nieuwveen Joins Sparks


Netherlands center Marlous Nieuwveen will play with the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA this season.

Nieuwveen, 24, is currently starring for CajaCanarias who are ranked second in Spain's Liga Femenina.

"I always had hoped that I would get my chance," Nieuwveen told the Chicago Post-Tribune.

"I'm still pretty young, and I knew that if I kept playing and improving, someone would eventually give me a chance.

"It's very exciting. It's like a dream come true. I think L.A. will be a great place for me to work on my game."

It is also great news for Valparaiso Crusaders women's coach Keith Freeman because Nieuwveen is the first former student to sign a contract with a WNBA franchise.

"She's just a great success story, to work as hard as she did to get where she's at," Freeman said of Nieuwveen.

Nieuwveen ranks sixth all-time at Valparaiso in both scoring (1,217) and rebounding (657), is third all-time shooting (51.9%) and is fifth all-time in blocked shots (81).

As a VU senior, the 193 cm center carried the Crusaders to the Women's National Invitation Tournament quarter-finals.

In the first round against Michigan, she was 9-of-9 from the field, the second-best shooting performance in Valpo history.

That game propelled Nieuwveen to an invitation to the 2002 WNBA predraft camp in Chicago.

"She had a great senior year for us," Freeman said. "She kept getting better. I knew she could play, and she's worked on her conditioning."

Nieuwveen did not get drafted and instead went on the international circuit, playing in Korea, Italy, Hungary, France before her current stop in Spain.

"It's awesome that Marlous has the opportunity to play in the WNBA," said Valpo associate coach Caroline McCombs.

"The league has grown so much over the past few years and typically if you don't get drafted right away, you try and play internationally and hope that you will get noticed.

"Marlous has done that and it's great that she is in the league.

"Marlous has just continued to follow her dream and we're glad that it started at Valpo."

Nieuwveen continues to hold Valpo close with her e-mail address linked to the school.

"I think the best thing about Valpo was the girls on the team, the coaching staf and other people that worked for our team," she said.

"I've kept in touch with the people that were dearest to me, but I do miss them."


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