Former H-DNL star signs pro contract to play in Portugal

Photos courtesy of UC Santa Cruz Athletics

By Ray Hamill — Kaylee Murphy will get the opportunity to fulfill three goals in one move this year after signing a professional contract to continue her career on the basketball court.

The 2018 Eureka High graduate, who is coming off a record-breaking college career at UC Santa Cruz, will fly out to Portugal on Friday morning to play for the Colégio Luso-Internacional do Porto (CLIP) in the second tier of Portuguese women’s professional basketball.

Not only will the former Logger get to continue to play the game she loves, but she also will continue her coaching career while there, as well as get the opportunity to experience a whole new culture.

“I just want to meet and experience other cultures,” she said. “I think it’s going to be exciting to be fully immersed in a different culture, to learn the language and pick up on things I wouldn’t pick up on if I was just visiting. I’m very excited.”

A few weeks ago Murphy believed the opportunity had passed her bye.

After graduating Santa Cruz with a degree in Human Biology earlier this year, she was approached by an agent who holds tryouts in several states for players interested in joining the pro ranks.

In June she traveled to Las Vegas for a three-day tryout, and her stats and game footage were posted online for interested teams in Europe.

After not hearing from any teams for several weeks, Murphy was beginning to believe her opportunity was gone, but then she was contacted by CLIP officials and after a month of talking things over she was finally offered a contract.

“I was definitely surprised, because we were told August was the last time teams would reach out,” she said. “It’s definitely crazy to think that a team would want you to come to play for them and pay you to play for them.”

Playing isn’t the only thing the former all-league H-DNL player will be doing.

The club also wants her to coach some of their younger teams, which will give her the chance to continue an eight-year coaching career, which has included camps at the Church of the Nazarene and Basketball Jones, as well as stints with the Eureka freshmen girls and Arcata JV boys.

Her primary role, however, will be playing center for the women’s team, as CLIP looks to take advantage of a common European rule that doesn’t apply to sports in the United States.

The Portuguese women’s league includes three levels of competition, and after placing fourth in the second tier last year, the CLIP officials are hoping to secure promotion to the top tier this coming season.

And they’re hoping the addition of a first-ever American player to their roster will get them over the hump.

Specifically her rebounding.

“They’re looking for rebounds, they told me that off the bat,” Murphy said, before adding with a chuckle, “That’s something I enjoy doing.”

It’s also something she has done very well. Murphy set a career record for boards at Santa Cruz, and remarkably did so in just her junior year.

In her four seasons with the Banana Slugs she pulled down an impressive 1,077 boards, which is 357 more than the next best on the list.

She also is the program’s all-time assists leader with 317 and is second all-time in school history with 148 blocks.

“(CLIP) told me to come in and rebound and bring an intense attitude,” Murphy said.

The new season tips off in early October and Murphy will be with the team for eight months.

After that, she says, she’s open to whatever comes next, which could involve moving to a different team in another country in Europe.

“I’m just thinking about getting the opportunity and being incredibly fortunate to continue my basketball career and my love for basketball,” she said. “I really just want to get over there and work hard and see my game grow.”

As for the level of basketball Murphy can expect in Portugal, she says she has watched a few games online and describes it as “a little more competitive that Division-III.”

The multi-sport standout also played volleyball at Eureka High and competed in track and field as a high school senior.

She admits she didn’t really take basketball seriously until her junior year at Eureka, when several of her coaches told her how far she could take her career.

“It was eye-opening,” she said.

As a child, Murphy considered herself more of a soccer player, but her love for basketball has gradually grown ever since her father, Ronnie Moore, introduced her to the sport when she was “7 or 8.”

She credits several coaches for helping her along the way, including Santa Cruz head coach Todd Kent and his staff.

“He was incredible,” Murphy said of Kent, who retired this past summer. “He taught me a lot about basketball and about being an adult. He was a great mentor.”

She says she really enjoyed her experience at Santa Cruz.

“It was incredible,” she said. “I had amazing coaches. I had amazing teammates.”

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