For episode 66 of the Hoopsfix podcast we have Andrea Congreaves on the show, widely regarded the greatest female basketball player to ever come out of the UK.
The sixteen-year pro was the first Brit to play in the WNBA, and won titles all over Europe after an absolutely dominant college career at Mercer.
It is hard to be succinct when it comes listing her career accomplishments but start with having her jersey retired at Mercer, being named to both the school and conference Hall of Fame.
Her time at Mercer saw her lead NCAA Division 1 in scoring in her Junior and Senior years (33.0 and 31.0ppg respectively), whilst being named an All-American in 1993.
From there, the 6’2″ ‘shooting forward’ as she likes to label herself, turned pro in Italy, before signing with Valencia in Spain where she won the first of multiple domestic titles across Europe.
She got selected by the Charlotte Sting with the 26th pick of the inaugural WNBA draft, playing 3 seasons in the WNBA, two with the Sting and one with Orlando Miracle, starting 58 of her 84 games – at a time when there were only 8 teams in the league.
Congreaves won titles in France, Spain, the UK along with multiple Euroleague Final Four appearances (runners up twice) and is up there amongst the greatest players to ever come out of the UK.
Having made her England senior debut at 17 years old in 1987, she picked up 40 caps for England and 15 for GB, and also went on represent Great Britain 20 years later for the reformation of the programme. S
Congreaves won a Commonwealth Games Gold medal in 1991 and bronze in 2006 – where she led the team in scoring at 36 years old.
In this two hour episode, hear from Andrea on:
How she was first discovered by Paul Stimpson through Crystal Palace’s School of Basketball
Her early years at Crystal Palace, Brixton Topcats and London YMCA
The things that happened during her development that she attributes to her success
Her lack of care or knowledge of individual stats and performances
The inspiration Carol Paris was for her coming up
How Crystal Palace hosting the WICB led to her first interest from US colleges
The lack of her belief in her own abilities and talents
The recruiting process and the likes of Kansas, UNC, UCLA, Ole Miss and others all chasing her
Knowing Mercer was the place for her and having a feel for it
Transitioning to the US from the UK both on and off the court
The coaching staff at Mercer trying to work out the best position for her
What she feels was her natural position
The drastic increase in her output from Freshman to Sophomore year and what caused it
Leading NCAA Division 1 in scoring for two straight years but not thinking about turning pro
Playing for the national team whilst at college
Winning gold at the Commonwealth games in 1991 in Edinburgh
What it meant to represent her country on the national team
Her standout memories playing for the national team
Following the current GB national team program
The younger generation coming through and whether they are aware of her career
Not being involved with basketball at all at the moment to take a break
Her desire to be involved with the national team programs in the future
Turning pro and signing her first deal in Italy
The differences between pro life and college life
Being the only British female player on the continent playing professionally
Being seen as a traitor for not coming back to play in England
Winning her first pro title in Spain
Every opposing team thinking she was an American
Coming up just short in the Euroleague final and how it still stings to this day
First getting wind the WNBA was being founded
Not believing she got drafted when she got the call from the league
Her experiences in the WNBA, how it compared to Europe and her memories with the Sting and Miracle
The level of the WNBA compared to Europe
How her time in the WNBA came to and end and how she chose to focus on Europe
Playing in Korea and getting selected in their draft
The final stages of her playing days in Wales with Rhondda Rebels in the run up the 2006 Commonwealth Games
Making the transition into the next phase of her career after playing
Her favourite basketball memory
Best player she ever played against
Her relationship with coach Mark Clark and the impact he has had on her career
What she wants her playing legacy to be
And much, much more!
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