Basketball: Suderman signs a pro contract with team in Greece

UC Santa Barbara’s Kat Suderman (10) blocks the shot of Cal Poly’s Becky Tratter during a Feb. 14 game at Mott Gym.
UC Santa Barbara’s Kat Suderman (10) blocks the shot of Cal Poly’s Becky Tratter during a Feb. 14 game at Mott Gym.

As a creative studies literature major at UC Santa Barbara, Kat Suderman was often assigned reading that had its roots in Greece.“It was kind of home for a lot of the reading I did,” Suderman said.

Now it’ll be her home. On Christmas Eve, the 6-foot-4 Suderman, a 2004 Mission Prep grad who went on to play for the Gauchos for four seasons, signed a contract to play professional basketball for the Apollon Kalamarias club of Thessaloniki, Greece.

The contract runs through April 2010, when this season ends. It completely provides medical and dental benefits, an apartment with utilities, airfare, a gym membership, transportation and a monthly stipend of $2,800 — post-taxes. She’ll leave Wednesday.

“It’s really exciting,” said Suderman, 23. “I worked in high school to get myself a scholarship to college. Then I realized I wanted to play basketball beyond college — that’s what I worked for. It’s a really nice feeling to do that now, and to experience it in a place like Greece.”

While a four-year varsity player at Mission Prep, Suderman became a three-time All-American by both Street and Smith’s and Adidas, as well as the first and only three-time San Luis Obispo County Player of the Year.

In becoming the Royals’ all-time leader in points (1,673), rebounds (1,356) and blocks (343), Suderman was widely ranked among the elite center prospects in the nation, drawing recruiting interest from the likes of Duke and UCLA.

She went on to garner all-Big West Conference first-team honors with the Gauchos in 2007-08, when she had a career year after redshirting in 2006-07 because of knee surgery, averaging 10.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in just 22.2 minutes per game as UCSB won the Big West championship.

After graduating from UCSB in June, Suderman found overseas opportunities scarce because of the economy, but eventually, with the help of agent Jeanne McNulty-King, she was able to secure her deal during one of her league’s two main signing periods.

Many WNBA players play overseas during the longer WNBA offseason, which doesn’t conflict with European seasons. If the chance to also play in the WNBA presented itself, Suderman said, she’d consider it. For now, though, Suderman — who has never been out of the country — said she’s more than happy to see how she fares in Greece.

“I plan on e-mailing a couple professors about it and staying in touch,” said Suderman, who as a senior in high school won a Shakespeare award for excellence in English literature. “Writing-wise and reading-wise, they might have a couple suggestions.”