On Monday, April 9, Highlander Athletics announced that senior forward Marina Ewodo signed a professional contract with Saint Amand Hainaut Basket in the professional French league (The Ligue Feminine de Basketball). Ewodo will join UCR men’s basketball alum Menno Dijkstra in Highlander history, who also signed a European basketball contract to play with Basket Girona last year in Spain.
Ewodo was a powerhouse contributor to the women’s basketball team. “I have a lot of good memories playing for UCR as it has been four full years of basketball,” Marina recalled in an interview with The Highlander. One memory in specific stood out: “The overtime game we played at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo last season was a memorable game that I’ll probably remember forever, because we were able to stand against adversity as a team,” she said.
During the 2018-2019 season, she was ranked second in the Big West Conference for field goal percentage (.516) and blocked shots (avg 1.7/g). This season, she was ranked a close third in the Big West Conference for rebounds per game, averaging 8.2 boards, only 0.2 rebounds away from ranking second.
After spending four years away from her hometown of Pau, France, the beginning of her professional career will allow Ewodo to play closer to home. “It means a lot to me as it is where I’m from … it was kind of a dream,” she said. Pau is a city in southwestern France near the Pyrenees mountains, while Saint Amand Hainaut Basket plays out of the north of France, closer to the Belgian border.
The LFB (women’s basketball league) is the top French basketball league for women, with Hainut ranking ninth of 12 teams this season. The French Federation of Basketball announced the final decision on the status of LFB season on Tuesday, April 10, officially canceling play and practice due to coronavirus. This decision comes after the French league was suspended on March 13 along with the majority of professional and amateur sports all over the world.
Because of the pandemic, Ewodo was not really able to celebrate the impressive career move. “I was very excited and I called my agent, my parents and siblings obviously and my UCR coach Seyram Bell,” Ewodo said. “They were all happy for me and it was nice to see that my basketball career mattered so much … I’m mostly by myself at my place but the support that I received made me happy,” she added.
Ewodo will remain in Riverside to wrap up her remaining coursework and return to France for preseason training. With training slated to begin in August and the season starting in September, the start of Ewodo’s professional career could possibly be delayed if coronavirus precautions continue. However, considering her accomplishments as a Highlander, she should have no problems adjusting to playing professionally.