Let The Right Ones In

Sept. 28, 2010

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Establishing trust may be the most important aspect of recruiting, whether it’s recruiting across the Atlantic Coast or the Atlantic Ocean.

The ability to establish trust on the latter front — specifically Sweden — may pay off handsomely for the Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball Team this season.

The Yellow Jackets’ projected 2010-11 roster includes a trio of Swedish-born talent, in sophomore forward Danielle Hamilton-Carter and true freshmen guard/forward Frida Fogdemark and forward Sandra Hasahya-Ngoie. All three boast extensive international experience in their native country, but couldn’t resist the challenge of playing at the D-I level in the United States and the lure of doing so at Georgia Tech.

The trio, who know each other and have been teammates in various combinations over the years, are just the latest to make Tech their choice for school.

“We all know it’s a very good school,” said Hamilton-Carter, a 6-4 forward. “I’ve known since I was a kid that I wanted to play in the ACC. I’ve always wanted to go to college but I never thought that I would actually get to go here, too. It’s just been amazing.”

Hamilton-Carter, the leader of the U-20 Swedish National Team over the summer, was inspired to come to Georgia Tech by watching guard Chioma Nnamaka, who from 2004 through 2008 was one of the best three-point shooters ever to play at Tech.

“Obviously, it’s a great school and we had some great players come here,” said Nnamaka, who played briefly with the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream and is back this year serving as a team manager while finishing up her degree in International Affairs. “Georgia Tech is spoken highly of. People at home can see that we came out pretty good after being here.”

Nnamaka was the third player from Sweden to come to The Flats and believes the program is ahead of where it was when she left it.

“Definitely the program has changed in a lot of ways. There is more talent and they rank higher than when I was playing,” she said. “[Head Coach] MaChelle Joseph has done a great job with this program. She has put them on the map. When I played, we did some great things. This team has been able to continue to build on that.”

Hamilton-Carter, who was forced to sit out last season, should play a big part in that. She’s eager to put to use the lessons she learned from practicing and being around the team.

“It was a great learning experience,” she said. “The basketball is so much different than European basketball, where it’s more of a finesse game. Being thrown into this, it’s just crazy. But I feel like just by watching them play games and practicing with the team made me so much of better a player and I proved it this summer.”

The 6-4 forward and Stockholm native, who will try to fill the shoes of Brigitte Ardossi, is looking forward to proving herself on the front line in ACC competition and is excited about flanking center Sasha Goodlett.

“I thought, ‘I could get a lot of assists playing with Sasha,'” she said with a laugh. “She’s an amazing post player. I’m so excited to play with her.”

Hamilton-Carter is as excited to once again play with Fogdemark, her teammate at ages 15, 17, and on the Under-20 National Team, and Hasahya-Ngoie, her club and high school teammate. The feeling is mutual from the freshmen.

Fogdemark, a sharp-shooting 6-2 guard/forward, was the MVP of the 2008 U-18 Swedish Championships, and was an important contributor to Sweden’s third-place finish at the 2009 U-18 European Championships. She was eager to come to the States after seeing countrymen Hanna Biernacka, Sandra Jonsson, and Jeanette Johansson succeed.

“They had always been my idols,” she said. “They have told me so much about college. They are the ones who inspired me to go to college.”

While Fogdemark hasn’t had much time to fully explore Atlanta, she is getting more comfortable venturing around campus. Having familiar faces around has been helpful, a concept that ran against her first inclination.

“When I started looking at different schools, I was like thinking, ‘I didn’t want to go anywhere that I had friends because I wanted to do this on my own,” she said. “But now, with Sandra and Danielle here, it feels so good. It’s still hard because everything is new but I have them and when I get homesick, I have them, I can talk Swedish to them. It’s really, really good to have them here.”

Nnamaka believes the team will feel the same way about the Södertälje, native, once they see her on the court.

“Frida, she’s actually a big guard,” said Nnamaka. “She’s a tall girl and she can shoot the heck out of the ball.”

Fogdemark is excited about playing for Joseph.

“I’ve heard good things about Coach Jo,” she said. “Outside of practice and stuff she cares so much about all the players. That’s made me feel comfortable.”

Getting in a comfort zone was the least of Hasahya-Ngoie’s concerns. On the court, she can play either forward position as well as shooting guard having done so on the National Team.

“I am a shooter,” said the 6-2 native of Arsta, who also is a left-handed shooter (something Nnamaka believes she can use to her advantage). “With my club team I was basically only a shooter but I could post up and I could drive. It depends what they needed. If I have someone that’s slower than me I can drive past them, but basically I like shooting and posting.”

Off the floor, she’s an extrovert, who embraces the energy of the big city.

“I am outgoing,” she said. “But it’s different, because I’m not really comfortable with speaking English. But my teammates wouldn’t let me be alone since the team is so family-oriented.”

Something of a free-spirit, complete with tongue piercing — “I wanted to change something and I didn’t want to get a tattoo because my mom would kill me. You notice it if you talk to me but it’s not [noticable].” — Hasahya-Ngoie is most at home using the written word, as she’s an avid reader who actively keeps a blog.

“I have a story that I write and people tend to like it, actually,” she said.

But don’t expect any bulletin board material deriving from her blog.

“It’s in Swedish,” she said and smiled.

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