Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament Feature: Soana Lucet, Parlez-vous Basketball?

March 11, 2010

Basketball has become an international sport thanks to the NBA and Olympics. Women’s college basketball is also becoming an international sport thanks to players like 6-foot-1 junior forward Soana Lucet at the University of Arizona, who is the first women’s college player from Noumea, New Caledonia, to play in the U.S. 

“I thought it would be a good opportunity,” said Lucet, who is fluent in French. “Also, it has always been my dream to play basketball in the US. Back home we think of America as the land of basketball. I really want to be a professional basketball player. Overseas isn’t easier, but if you have a good college career, then you have a better chance of being able to play professionally.”

 Lucet’s hometown is on a small group of islands that is considered a Territories of Overseas and is under French rule. With a population of approximately 250,000, it is not necessarily a hotbed for basketball.

 “It’s not like women’s basketball is that popular,” said Lucet. “We can watch NBA games on TV back home, but that’s it. Soccer is the main sport in New Caledonia. I don’t like soccer as there is too much running to do. I can run on the basketball court and that is good enough. The soccer field is just too long.”

 Unlike many of her peers who may have come out of the womb with a basketball in their hands or been playing in club teams since elementary schools, Lucet is a late bloomer in basketball.

 “I didn’t start playing until my freshman year of high school when I was around 15 years old,” said Lucet. “I started playing basketball in between classes in high school. I was also tall so I thought it would be fun to play.”

 After finding a home on the hardwood floor of a basketball court, Lucet then embraced the opportunity of leaving her hometown to come to the U.S. This leap of faith of stepping out of her comfort zone has enabled her to enjoy new experiences from the University of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho, to the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz.

 “At first I missed my family a lot and it was hard to be by myself,” said Lucet who started her collegiate career at the University of Southern Idaho. “When I came here and did not know the language. Yet I knew this is what I wanted to do so I stayed. It is a good thing I am pretty social.”

 “Back home the weather is pretty nice and when I went to Idaho it was freezing. I like Tucson because I like the hot weather here, the people here and the community. People here are nice and even when we just go to the mall, people will stop and ask if I play at the University of Arizona. Then to see the kids come to watch our games is something I like.”

 Now as a regular starter for the Wildcats in her first season at the University of Arizona, Lucet – who averages 12.7 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game and is ranked No. 15 in scoring in the Pac-10, is an example of where hard work and staying positive will take you.

 “She works hard every single day and every single minute,” said University of Arizona coach Niya Butts. “She is a fighter, continues to grind it out and is the one who is reassuring her teammates. We lean on her a lot to be the emotional leader and supportive of everyone. She is a big part of our team from an emotional standpoint and scoring standpoint.”

 Lucet’s love for the sport is helping her experiences new things abroad and enabling her biggest fan to enjoy prideful moments.

 “My mom came into town in February and will be here for two months,” said Lucet. “She hasn’t seen me play basketball at the college level yet. She is really excited. I am really excited as well as she is my biggest fan. She will email her friends to let them know how I am doing and into what I am doing. She’s so proud of me that I can’t get too mad when she tells people how I am doing when they don’t even ask.”

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