(By: Adriel Smiley)
Ex-Ryerson Ram, Mariah Nunes, has gone professional in Europe.
Nunes signed with Oviedo Club Baloncesto, a professional basketball team in Oviedo, Spain. The criminology graduate is from Ajax, Ontario. She played three impressive seasons for the Rams, but playing professional has always been the goal.
“Playing pro has always been a dream for me. I talked about it since I was young, since I started playing basketball,” said Nunes, on a Facebook call from Spain.
She becomes another one of the many GTA players who made the move to professional basketball.
Carly Clarke, head coach of the Ryerson women’s basketball team, credits Nunes success to her hard work.
“Her ability to maximize herself and work hard is something that allows her to move on to the next level,” said Clarke.
Nunes is the second member of the 2015-16 Ryerson women’s basketball team to make the jump to the pros, following Silvana Jez, who signed with the HPC Royal Eagles based in Apeldoorn, Holland. But for women, playing professional did not always seem like a possibility.
“When I was playing, it wasn’t a prominent thing for females to keep playing once they finished university,” said Clarke, a former academic all-Canadian.
The men’s teams at Ryerson have had several players move onto professional careers and the women’s teams are starting to catch up. Men highlight the emergence of Canadian talent while the female ballers of Canada are making a name for themselves.
According to NorthPoleHoops, there were 104 Canadian men playing NCAA basketball last year. According to Canada Basketball, there were 88 men and 80 women playing NCAA basketball in the 2012-13 season. But heading down south isn’t the solution for everyone.
Before transferring to Ryerson, Nunes played basketball at Fairleigh Dickinson University, an NCAA Division One school in New Jersey where she played 29 games. Being awarded a full scholarship was an opportunity she could not resist. She spoke about not enjoying her time there and choosing to leave and make Ryerson her new home.
“I decided that I needed to find somewhere that is going to value me as a player and as a person, so I decided to go to Ryerson and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life,” said Nunes of her Division One experience.
Nunes represents many athletes who have the talent to play post-secondary basketball in the United States at the highest level, but choose to play in Canada. In recent years, Ryerson has proven itself to be very competitive and a viable option for those who look to eventually play professionally.
Katiesha Brissett, was a teammate of Nunes back in 2012 when the two played together on the Advantage Titans Basketball Club. Also from Ajax, Brissett thinks Nunes’s success is inspiring.
“I feel proud to be from the area. GTA players were always overlooked, especially female players and now it’s good seeing more and more people continuing on with basketball and going professional,” said Brissett.
The Rams play their next game on Friday at the Mattamy Athletic Centre against Nipissing University. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. This will be Ryerson’s first home conference game of the season.
Featured image by Alex D’Addese