COSTA MESA, Calif. – Vanguard women's basketball standout Nicole Ballestero has signed a contract to begin her professional career overseas. Ballestero, the Vanguard Athlete of the Year, Golden State Athletic Conference Player of the Year, WBCA Player of the Year and the NAIA Player of the Year will spend the 2014-15 season as a member of the Aabyhoj Basketball Club in Denmark.
Aabyhoj plays in the Dameligaen, the top professional league in the country. The Greens are known for having a great women's basketball tradition and for developing strong players.
Most of the Aabyhoj roster is filled with young players, born primarily in 1994 and 1995, making it the youngest team in the Dameligaen. The team should suit Ballestero well, as it plays an aggressive, full court press defense and employs a fast break offense.
The team's six-month season runs from October to March, though Ballestero will depart for Europe on August 19th.
"I am so thankful that I get the opportunity to further my basketball career," Ballestero said. "I am excited to experience another culture and travel the world while doing something that I love. Being at Vanguard these past two years has prepared me to be able to handle this new culture and to compete at the professional level. Thanks to everyone who helped me during my time at VU. I have been told that our team's goal next year is to develop our young players into national team players and players that can play college basketball, in the states."
Ballestero, who was a First Team NAIA All-American in 2013 as well as 2014, ranked among the top 15 nationally in points per game (2nd, 22.97), free throw percentage (7th, .843), total scoring (7th, 666 points), 3-point field goal percentage (9th, .438), 3-point field goals made per game (10th, 2.79), total 3-point field goals made (13th, 81) and assist to turnover ratio (14th, 2.30) in her final season with the Lions. She lead the GSAC in scoring at 22.9 ppg in 2014 and scored a school-record 53 points on March 7, 2014 against Hope International. Ballestero managed 20-plus points in 17 games and 30-plus points in eight of the Lions' 27 games. She also joined the 1,000-point club, after just two seasons, in 2014 after recording 619 points her senior campaign.