For many seniors, combines are the next step after graduation

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

A look at how the combine process works in women's basketball.

With the end of the 2012-13 college women’s basketball season, most fans turn to the WNBA Draft as the next major event on the calendar. Brittney Griner is sure to go first but what about Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins? Which goes second and which goes third? What player will your favorite team draft?

But what if you’re a graduating senior and your name is not on the WNBA Draft list? What if you want to keep playing basketball, somewhere, anywhere? Many seniors who are off the draft radar will be trying to keep their careers going by playing in Europe, or Asia, or anywhere that they’ve heard of a bouncing ball, and that means a combine.

For those who have never heard of such a thing, a combine is where a group of prospective basketball players get together to display their skills in the hopes that someone is watching – someone who could sign them to a pro contract. Not all combines are the same, but they generally have some events in common. There can be skills events, where a player’s speed or vertical leap might be recorded. The players will be divided into teams and play against each other in something simulating an actual game. Video of the player is generally available after the combine, so that attending players can add it to their "resume" and have something to show teams that might have a roster spot open somewhere. Sometimes – but not always – pro coaches will be present to observe and scout players for their teams overseas.

The website overseasbasketballcombines.com held a combine in 2013 in New Orleans from April 4 through April 6th. (At least we think they did.)

The combine consisted of approximately 25 players graduating from NCAA schools in 2013. Details about the cost of attending this combine can be found nowhere on the website - you could send an e-mail request for information, but only if you were a player and could link to some online biography. The DreAllDay website stated that men’s college combines cost between $150 and $500 for registration, the cost is probably similar for women.

However if you look hard enough, however, you can find out the information for the 2012 Women’s Final Four Combine at Denver, also held by overseasbasketballcombines.com. There were 40 college seniors listed at the combine, along with other players that had some sort of overseas experience who might have been looking to sign with some other team.

I decided to look up each of these 40 players on eurobasket.com to see where they ended up after the combine.

To each of these players, I assigned a number:

0: player was drafted by a WNBA team

1: player ended up in a "Tier 1" European country, a country with a history of contending at basketball. You might have some issue with my definition of Greece as a Tier 1 country, but I’m being as inclusive as possible.

2: player either ended up in a "Tier 2" European country or the B league of a Tier 1 country.

3: player ended up in the B league of a Tier 2 country.

4: no information about the player after graduation from eurobasket.com

The results follow.

Name Pos College / Last Team Result
Christine Flores F University of Missouri WNBA Draft Round 3 0
Katelan Redmon G Gonzaga University WNBA Draft Round 3 0
Kayla Standish F Gonzaga University WNBA Draft Round 2 0
Antonia Bennett G/F FAMU France Nantes 1
Candice Bellocchio PG Hofstra Italy Faenza 1 *
Jasmine Erving C Cal State Northridge Greece Ikaros Kalitheas 1
Kiara Buford G University of Minnesota Poland Lider Pruzkow 1
Kim Mestdagh G/F Colorado State Spain Caja Rural 1
Leah Kassing C Bradley Poland BI Gydnia 1
Talisa Rhea G Seattle University Poland BI Gydnia 1
Carmen Reynolds SF Michigan Portugal CAB Madiera 2
Jessica Jenkins G St Bonaventure University Iceland Keflavik 2
Julie Seabrook F Colorado University Switzerland Bellinzona 2
Justine Raterman F Dayton Portugal CAB Madiera 2
Katie Bussey G Montana State Holland ProBuild Lions 2
Kristina Santiago F Cal Poly State University Bulgaria Dunov 8806 2
MacKenzie Westcott F Bradley UK Loughborough 2
Natalie Day F/G University of Portland Finland HyPo 2
Porche Torrance F New Mexico Finland Huima 2
Porsha Porter G Mississippi State Iceland Fjolnir 2 **
Shannon Thomas C Indiana State Spain Las Rozas 2
Shantale Bramble-Donaldson F LA Tech Finland Kerava 2
Chan Harris F Georgia State University Sweden Eskinstuna 3
Diamber Johnson G Mississippi State Germany Sandhausen 3
Alexandra Chilli G Muhlenberg none 4
Brittany Johnson F San Jose St none 4
Christina Rozier PG Washington none 4
Christine Marks C Misericordia none 4
Clare Duwelius G Wayne St. none 4
Courtney Boylan PG Michigan none 4
Erin Brown G/F UMBC none 4
Hillary McKinley F RPI none 4
Jazmine Jackson G Pepperdine none 4
Kimberly Brandon G Arizona State none 4
LaQwesha Gamble G Johnson C. Smith none 4
Megan Van Tatenhove F St Bonaventure University none 4
Michelle Kurowski G UMBC none 4
Patrice Lalor G Dayton none 4
Skye Barnett F Pepperdine none 4
Vicki Collier F Virginia Union none 4

* - team folded and player moved on to Switzerland
** - later came back to the US to play for the WUBA

All in all, it looks like 60 percent of the players that attended the combine signed with some sort of professional pro team. But most of the players ended up with no team at all, and the average level of team was Tier 2.

Furthermore – and I can’t stress this enough – we have no way of knowing if it was attending the camp that led to the signing or if they would have been signed sooner or later regardless. These players might have been signed overseas even if they hadn’t attended the camp.

So are combines a good thing? Dre Baldwin at the DreAllDay website said that he had been to about 10 combines in his career, and only 4 or 5 were worth it.

Yes, attending a camp, especially in a place you otherwise wouldn’t have been, can be a great experience. You’ll meet other players and people, and take lots of pictures. Speaking strictly form a business standpoint — this is a business, you will find out — there are three clear objectives: 1) Signing a contract to play for a team; you know by the time you leave the camp that you’ll be playing for a certain club when the time comes, and it’s on paper. 2) Making contact with an agent or team manager or player, that can get you closer to #1. 3) Having video/ scouting report from the camp that can get you closer to #1 and/or #2. Otherwise, why go?

For female players, there are fewer opportunities in the United States. There are fewer women’s pro teams in Europe than there are men’s teams – and in general, there seem to be fewer combines. Looking at the sample from overseasbasketballcombines.com, it doesn’t look like a combine is a sure thing if you want to end up playing women’s basketball professionally. But is anything in life a sure thing, other than death and taxes?

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