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Notebook

Former Tufts captain Colleen Hart of Needham playing pro basketball in Switzerland

Former Needham and Tufts star Colleen Hart is playing point guard for SC Uni Basel Basket in Switzerland.

Colleen Hart left quite a legacy with the women’s basketball program at Tufts University, departing last season as the career leader in points and 3-point field goals, and second all-time in assists.

But the former Needham High star was not quite ready for the business world. This winter, she is the starting point guard for SC Uni Basel Basket, an elite professional women’s team based in Switzerland.

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She’s enjoying every moment, on and off the court.

“I didn’t want to think about not playing basketball after college. I wanted to continue to improve my skills, travel, and meet new people, and I’m definitely living a dream,’’ Hart said in a phone interview last weekend. She and her roommate, Megan Skouby, a 6-foot-6 center who starred at the University of Iowa, are the only US citizens on the team.

Basel advanced to the semifinals of the Swiss Cup midseason tournament, and entering the final phase of the regular season with its record 9-8. The 5-foot-4 Hart was third in team scoring (11.8 points per game) while chipping in with 3.1 assists, 3.1 steals, and 4.8 rebounds.

Hart, a two-time captain at Tufts, has remained close to her college coach, Carla Berube, and her former Jumbos teammates, who advanced to the third round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament before bowing, 50-47, to St. Thomas of Minnesota.

“Coach Berube knows people who have gone through the same experience trying to find a pro team, and she helped me find an agent at the MK Sports Group in New York City,’’ said Hart. “She’s been very supportive since I came here, and I’ve been very excited about Tufts’ season. They’ve made a great run.’’

Berube, who described Hart as “the face of our program,’’ and Hart’s former AAU coach, Sam Doner, helped her put together some game and workout tapes, but there was still a wait to find a team. She finally received the good news in August and reported to Basel in September.

Hart (1,422 career points at Tufts) led the New England Small College Athletic Conference in scoring as a senior (averaging 16 points and 2.2 three-pointers per game), but her season ended on a painful note.

“I had a high ankle sprain. I was able to come back to play on senior night and in the first round of the NESCAC playoffs, when we lost to Williams in overtime,’’ said Hart. “It was just bad timing.’’

After setting her sights on playing overseas, Hart, a former NESCAC Rookie of the Year and a four-time All-NESCAC selection, stayed sharp by playing again last summer in the Honan women’s league in Brighton.

“It helped me refocus and get that desire to play back,’’ said Hart, who had never been to Switzerland, but did hike in Eastern Europe with school friends.

She described Basel as “a pretty cool city, about an hour from Lucerne and Zurich, and everyone has been so welcoming to me. My parents have visited me and I did get one trip home in January and realized I was really looking forward to going back. When I’m done playing here, I want to come back and visit, and I hope some of my teammates will visit me in the United States.’’

Basel is coached by former University of Richmond star Ina Nicosia-Schelker, who played six seasons professionally in Belgium and Switzerland.

“I live in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, and I’m trying to learn the language,’’ said Hart, who said the competition is tougher than in college.

“The defense is more in your face,’’ she said, “but it’s made me a better player. The players in our league range from age 16 to 30, and I get a lot of questions about playing in college in America. I’ve found a new home here, and it’s been an awesome experience.’’

Campus achievers

Stonehill College junior Corey Thomas of Brookline and the college’s 4,000-meter distance medley relay team earned All-America honors at the NCAA Division 2 indoor track and field championships last weekend in Minnesota. Thomas finished third in the high jump at 7 feet 0.25 inches, after winning the national title the previous two years. Stonehill’s 4,000-meter squad placed sixth with a boost from freshman anchor Daniel Zawalich, a graduate of St. John’s High in Shrewsbury.

Bates College junior Mike Antonellis of Sudbury pitched a three-hit, seven-inning shutout to complete a doubleheader sweep of Worcester State on Saturday and extend the team’s winning streak to five games. Bates (7-2) plays doubleheaders Saturday at Haverford and Sunday at Swarthmore. In two starts, Antonellis had a 1-0 record with 8 strikeouts in 11 innings and a 2.45 earned-run average. His teammates include starting senior infielder Mike Ciummei of Acton.

The Roger Williams University men’s lacrosse team nipped Wheaton College on Saturday, 11-10, to improve to 2-0. Shrewsbury’s Ian Powers began the game with a pair of goals for Roger Williams, and teammate Jon Nessa of Concord added two more to get the Hawks off to a fast start. Powers registered a game-high seven points (four goals and three assists) and Nessa added five points (two goals, three assists).

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.
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