| March 18, 2018

Luxembourg bound: Charlston signs first professional contract

alyssaAlyssa Charleston will be taking her talents to Luxembourg.

The former Vandal announced yesterday that she signed a professional basketball contract with Amicale Steinsel.

“My coaches really have made me the player that I am today,” Charlston said. “I didn’t even know that playing overseas was going to be a completely viable option. I always dreamed about it, but I didn’t know it would actually happen.”

Located in Steinsel, Luxembourg, Amicale is one of eight teams in the Luxembourg Total League. The team has struggled in recent years and finished sixth last season, but in 2012 Amicale won the Vainqueur Coupe des Dames, which translates to Ladies Cup Winner.

Each team in the league features two to three American players. Last season, former University of Montana player Katie Baker averaged 23.3 points per game for Amicale, which was a league best.

“They do value Americans,” Charlston said. “They want you over there … If I show that I work and play hard, I think I should get some decent playing time. Obviously, there are no guarantees, but I think it’s expected that I play at a pretty high level.”

Charlston played at a high level her whole college career. She set a school record for consecutive games played with 130, finished fifth all-time in scoring with 1,587 career-points and finished fourth in both blocks (128) and rebounds (855).

Next season Charlston will join former Illinois State player Katie Donovan and former Wisconsin-Milwaukee player Lindsay Laur.

Amicale wasn’t the only team trying to sign Charlston, but she said her agent was confident this was the best deal. She said her contract includes an undisclosed salary, transportation, housing and meals — the team will also pay for the move to Luxembourg. Charlston added the majority of teams in Europe don’t usually offer cars and housing.

If the contract wasn’t enough, Charlston said the coach made an impression and sealed the deal.

“He seems like a really good person,” Charlston said. “A lot of times when you go overseas, the coach is 100 percent about business and not really interested in you as a person.”

One might think the time commitment for a professional basketball player is more than a college player, however, Charlston said it will be the other way around.

“That’s the nice thing,” she said. “The schedule isn’t too crazy. A lot of the teams in Europe have practices every day, but this one looks like it will have three or four practices a week, a game and then time off.”

That means more time for travel. Luxembourg is located in the heart of Europe, right in the middle of Belgium, France and Germany. The broadcast major said she plans on traveling quite a bit and will document all of it. She plans on starting a blog, which will include videos and photos.

“I’ll try to incorporate some of that over there,” Charlston said of her broadcast major. “The location is amazing. It was overall the best situation and it seems perfect. It’s a very clean and safe country. They are also one of the richest countries in the world.”

Charlston added the language barrier in Luxembourg won’t be hard to overcome and many locals speak English, along with French, German or the official language, Luxembourgish.

Even though she will be living in a different country, Charlston said she wouldn’t forget about her old teammates back in Moscow.

“Those girls are all my family,” she said. “I’ve had a huge part of my life committed to them and that program. There is no way I would just be able to completely drop it and not check up on them. I’m pretty interested to see how well they do.”

Charlston didn’t want to get in trouble with her old team by making a prediction on their upcoming season, but she thinks they will continue the tradition of winning.

“Those young girls, all they know is championships,” Charlston said. “That is going to serve them really well, because they have high standards for themselves. I have no question in their ability to do it again, and I can’t wait to see what they do this year.”

Charlston will join Amicale in September for the start of pre-season — the first regular season game is Oct. 4. For information, stats, schedules and more head to www.eurobasket.com.

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