Overlooked in the 2011 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft, Kalisha Keane has been given the opportunity this season to prove that she belongs in the premier professional league.
The San Antonio Silver Stars, which has qualified for the playoffs in four of the franchise’s eight seasons, signed the forward last month to a contract.
Keane’s father, Hugh, said his daughter was disappointed that she went undrafted last year.
“The expectations were high and it was a body blow to her when she was not selected,” he told Share. “She decided to go to Europe and hone her skills and our family is excited that Kalisha is being given the chance to play in the WNBA, which was always her dream.”
Keane was playing with Gospic Osiguranje in the Euro League when San Antonio contacted her. As a result, she was allowed to opt out of her contract with the Croatian club and sign a short-term deal in Israel.
The Ajax resident returns to the United States next month to prepare for the WNBA season that starts on May 18. San Antonio will be on the road in Tulsa in its season opener the following day.
Keane averaged 11.3 points in her four years at Michigan State University where she was the first Spartan to be named Big Ten Player of Year last season. The recipient of the conference’s 2011 Sportsmanship Award, Keane left Michigan tied for the most games played (136) and finished second in steals with 259 and third in three-point field goals made with 183.
Keane, and her younger sister, Takima, a senior at Cleveland State University, were among the first batch of Canadian student athletes enrolled in the National Elite Development Academy in 2006. The sisters started playing the sport with the Durham West Jaguars Boys team before transferring to the Ajax Lions which their father coached at the time.
A member of the national youth program since Grade Eight, Keane was on the 2004 junior world qualification, the 2006 Under-20 International Basketball Federation Americas, the 2009 Under-21 world championships and the 2009 World University Games teams.
A leg injury ruled her out of consideration for a spot on the national team for the junior world championships in Tunisia in 2005.
The 23-year-old, three-time provincial gold medalist helped Canada to a third-place finish at last year’s FIBA Americas championship, averaging 7.5 points and three rebounds in six games.
Keane is among a select group of Ontario players in the WNBA since its inception in 1997.
Tammy Sutton-Brown, who plays for the Indiana Fever, was selected 18th by the now defunct Charlotte Sting in 2002; Stacy Dales-Schuman was drafted third overall by the Washington Mystics 10 years ago; Merle Lange-Harris represented Phoenix in 1999 and Angie Ball played in 2001 with the Sting before retiring because of injury.
By RON FANFAIR