Five days after starring in the conquest of the Eurocup with Valencia Basket, Raquel Carrera has made history again. The 19-year-old 1.90m center from Orense was selected in the second round of the draft of the WNBA, in the position number 15 by the Atlanta Dream. Never has a Spanish player been chosen in such a high position in the basketball mecca. Leticia Romero and Astou Ndour had the best position until this morning, with number 16. In the same ceremony, Aina Ayuso, a Barcelona base for Casademont Zaragoza, 21 years old and 1.75m, has been selected in the third round, in the position 34, by Los Angeles Sparks, with the gift of the message in networks, as a greeting and welcome, from Earvin Magic Johnson.
With Carrera and Ayuso, there are already 10 Spanish players chosen in the draft American, with a notable increase in the following of the talent of the best quarry in Europe in recent editions. The Spanish team closed the past decade as the country with the most medals won in the FIBA training championships (42), ahead of the United States (31), Australia (27) and France (26). In total, 19 podiums for the men’s teams and 23 for the women’s teams, 12 of them with gold around their neck. Maite Cazorla (23), María Conde (27) and Ángela Salvadores (31) were chosen in 2019, while Leticia Romero was chosen in 2017 and Astou Ndour in 2014. In 2009, Alba Torrens obtained position 36, the same as Nuria Martínez, who entered the 2004 edition. Amaya Valdemoro was the first Spanish player to be chosen by the WNBA, in 1998 at number 30.
The future of the Spanish team is already here and it stands out with note for the American scouts. Last November, the coach, Lucas Mondelo, summoned a group of 19 players in Valencia, with the architects of the seven consecutive medals between 2013 and 2019 (Laia Palau, Laura Nicholls, Silvia Domínguez, Alba Torrens, Anna Cruz, Laura Gil and Astou Ndour), the thriving intermediate link (made up of Cristina Ouviña, Queralt Casas, Leo Rodríguez, Andrea Vilaró and María Conde, now absent due to injury), the base of the generational change (Laura Quevedo, Belén Arrojo, Nogaye Lo, María Araujo, Paula Ginzo and Maite Cazorla) and the two pieces with the greatest future: newcomers Raquel Carrera and Aina Ayuso. A list with eight players under the age of 25 and with only two of them competing abroad: Torrens (in Russian Yekaterinburg) and Ndour (in Turkish Hatay), a figure that reverses the trend emigrant It reached its peak in 2017, when Spain achieved continental gold in the Czech Republic with four players on national teams.
The election of Carrera and Ayuso does not imply their immediate jump to the WNBA, even more so considering the extraordinary summer that Spanish women’s basketball faces. The team will play the European Championship in Valencia (June 17 to 27) and the Tokyo Games (July 23 to August 8) almost consecutively, with only 25 days of margin between one and another appointment. An unprecedented double challenge for which, everything points, Mondelo is sure to have Carrera. The WNBA season takes place between the months of May and September.
Two years ago, the player from Orense ruled out the option of studying at the American university and opted for the stability of the five-year project offered by Valencia Basket – the first of which was transferred to Araski de Vitoria to progressively forge herself into the elite. A decision supported by José Ignacio Hernández, former coach and current technical director of the women’s teams, according to EL PAÍS. “Not everything is the United States. Being in the Women’s League since the age of 18 means playing at a competitive level much higher than that of the players who are in the American university league. The NCAA would be too small for him. It has succeeded in that, because it has quickly consolidated its evolution, we refer to the tests ”, he points out. If a gap is made between the final 12 for the Eurobasket and the Games, she will not have that role of the young player who arrives to gain experience. It will contribute from the beginning. The ceiling is going to mark her and she has an enormous capacity to work to go far ”, adds Hernández. Now American basketball is putting the focus back on his talent.
Two days ago, another pearl, Santi Aldama (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 2001), a wonder of 2.11m and 100 kilos that, according to all experts, mixes the biotype of Pau Gasol with the versatility of Toni Kukoc, made official your candidacy for the next draft of the NBA from Loyola Maryland University. “I have decided that my name is in the 2021 draft without rejecting the possibility of continuing in the college league. I have always dreamed of becoming an NBA player and I am ready to take the next step in my basketball career, ”Aldama said. In the same promotion, Madrid’s center Usman Garuba (Madrid, 19 years old) is expected, with more than 100 games with Laso’s team. Spanish talent attracts attention in the United States.