Jill Townsend opted out of another year at Gonzaga.
After a four-year run with Gonzaga women’s basketball during which she helped the program reach unprecedented heights , Townsend could have returned for one more go-round due to the NCAA’s relaxed eligibility rules in light of COVID.
But even in the first press conference after the Zags’ first -round loss to Belmont, the Okanogan, Washington-born Townsend didn’t consider the option at all, saying she wouldn’t return to GU when quizzed by reporters.
“I had a great four years at GU … I gave my all for four years,” Townsend told The Spokesman-Review this week. “I went beyond my expectations for myself, got to take the program to new heights and most importantly, I met some of the best people in my life.
“But with that being said, I was ready to move on and get a different perspective on life.”
Instead Townsend signed in June with the Gerolof Panthers, which play in the first division of Germany’s professional women’s basketball league, Damen-Basketball-Bundesliga
“Jill is a huge asset to our team and brings us some of the qualities we lacked,” said Alexander Kwik, Gerolof’s coach and manager. “She’s an excellent long-range shooter, good defender and has good energy for her position.”
She already has been in Germany for three weeks, adjusting to a completely new set of teammates and a different style of play for the first time in four years. Regular-season play is set to commence next week, as with most upper-division EuroLeague teams.
“Playing basketball overseas has been a lifelong dream of mine and it’s incredible to live it out,” Townsend said. “I get to experience life in a foreign country while playing the game I love – you can’t beat it.”
Townsend is just one of a burgeoning number of former Zags women’s players making names for themselves overseas, many of whom found new homes in Europe and beyond over the offseason.
Townsend’s former teammate Laura Stockton, daughter of GU and NBA legend John Stockton, also signed with a German team last summer, the Herner TC. After averaging 8.0 points and 3.8 assists per game during Herner’s run to the Bundesliga semifinals, Stockton signed with the Morovis Montañeras of Puerto Rico’s pro league. In Puerto Rico she joins her brother and fellow former GU standout David, who spent last season with the Guaynabo Mets of the men’s league, where he was among the league leaders in points (21.1 PPG) and assists (5.9 APG) last year while shooting 53% from the floor and 49% from three-point range.
Another former teammate of Townsend and Stockton, Zykera Rice, is returning to Kotka, Finland, for another season with Kotka Peli-Karhut of the Korisliiga, where she led the team in scoring (23.7 points per game) and rebounding (10.6 boards per game) en route to a Finnish league championship in 2021 – Kotka’s second consecutive championship.
Point guard Emma Stach is joining a team that’s coming off a championship run of its own with Panathinaikos in Athens, Greece, after a year splitting time on- and off-ball as a combo reserve guard with A3 Basket Umea of the Swedish league. Stach was Umea’s second-leading scorer in 2021 with 17.2 points per game to go with averages of 2.8 assists and 5.8 boards per contest.
Fellow point guard Jessie Loera is departing Breidablik Kópavogur of the Iceland-Dominos league – where she averaged a team-high 341/2 minutes, 17.1 points and 6.9 assists in 2021 – for Nyon Basket Feminin of the Swiss league. German native and former GU post Sunny Grienacher re-upped with reigning Polish BLK League champs Arka Gdynia, where she averaged 7.7 points, 1.5 assists and 5 rebounds per game while shooting 59.5% from the field in 2021.
Australia native Kelly Bowen is staying home with the NBL1’s Waverley Falcons, where she averaged 14.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. So is point guard Lily Scanlon, who left GU after her freshman year in 2020-21 to head home for pro opportunities and is with the WNBL’s Melbourne Boomers to start the season.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.