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Southmoreland grad inks deal with German basketball team, eye still on WNBA

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Former Southmoreland star Vanessa Abel has signed a contract with a professional team in Stockholm Sweden.

Southmoreland High School graduate Vanessa Abel is now a professional athlete after signing a one-year contract with the GiroLive Panthers.

The Panthers compete in Germany's Division-One basketball league known as the Damen-Basketball-Bundesliga League (DBBL). The team's home games are located in Osnabruck, which is a little less than 300 miles west of Berlin. From Scottdale to Osnabruck, basketball has taken Abel on a long trip that seems far from ending anytime soon.

When she attended Southmoreland, Abel put herself on the map quickly.

Her statistics were spectacular, but what most people noticed about Abel was her ability to win games and attract the ball. It was quite clear that she was a standout and not just a high school star. After a few transitional years, Abel latched on to Duquesne University, where she helped the college establish a winning culture.

According to Duquesne's official website, Abel became the second player from the Class of 2013 — the winningest in program history with 88 victories — to sign a professional contract. Jocelyn Floyd, of Washington Pa., signed with New Basket Oberhausen 92, also of the DBBL, in June of this year.

While her career at Southmoreland will be most remembered locally, Abel statistically overachieved at Duquesne. She finished her career seventh in university history in steals with 210, ninth all-time with 371 assists and ninth in three-point field goal percentage (.386). She was named 2011 Atlantic 10 Third-Team All-Conference. She led the Dukes to a 56-24 record as a starter, which in addition to her numbers at Southmoreland opened up the eyes of the German scouts.

Abel has only been playing in Germany for two weeks, but she already has plenty to say about the experience.

“So far, I love it. It's a lot different from home though. I'm starting to appreciate America a lot more now. But it is an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world,” Abel said.

Josh King is a contributing writer.