BUFFALO, NY – Former University at Buffalo women's basketball great JoAnna Smith has inked her first professional contract with the Clube Uniao Sportiva Ponta Delgada of the Liga Feminina (Portugal). Smith becomes the second UB player to sign a professional contract since head coach Felisha Legette-Jack took over the program in 2012, joining former teammate Christa Baccas.
Uniao Sportiva is coached by Ricardo Botelho feature a pair of American players in Akila McDonald (South Florida '14) and Jasmine Crew (Seton Hall '12). The team also features a former standout at South Florida '14, Sara Djassi, who is from Portugal.
"I want to thank the UB Bulls family for an amazing four-year experience and for growing me as a person as well as an athlete," said JoAnna Smith. "I am now ready fully ready to soar new heights and compete at the professional level thanks to UB. I couldn't be more excited to start this new chapter in my career over in Portugal."
The lethal scorer turned into one of the best players in the MAC over her final two seasons as well as growing into a team leader for the youthful Buffalo squad. Smith closed out her senior season earning All-MAC recognition for the second straight season as she was named Second Team All-MAC after averaging a team-best 17.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.0 assist. The senior was the catalyst for the Bulls offense all season long as she scored in double figures 27 times this season while going over the 20-point plateau 12 times and the 30-point plateau twice. Smith was able to connect on 89 three pointers, fourth most in a single season in program history. She had her best season as a Bull on the defensive end of the court as she was able to snag a career-best 54 steals.
The Southaven, MS native put together an impressive career for the Bulls as she collected the most wins (78) by any UB player since the Bulls joined the MAC in 1998-99. Smith wrapped up her Buffalo career with 1,395 career points, ranking sixth in program history. The sharpshooter closed out her UB career ranked third in program history in three pointers made (208) and seventh in field goals made (494). Playing in 121 career games, third most in program history, Smith ranked 12th in program history in free throw percentage as she converted on 72.4% of her career free throw attempts.
The city of Ponta Delgada is the largest municipality and administrative capital of the region of the Azores in Portugal. It is located on Sao Miguel Island, the largest and most populous in the archipelago islands.
"Clube Uniao Sportiva Ponta Delgada is a great team who competes at the top of their league every year with a goal of winning," stated Smith. "I just want to come in and help propel us to be a championship contender once again. I am really looking forward to jumping right into whatever scoring role they'll have for me and competing for a championship is my only goal."
The Liga Feminina season begins play in October with the playoffs beginning in April. Uniao Sportiva finished off this past season with a 15-7 record and were defeated in the quarterfinals of the playoffs by CAB Madeira, 2-1, in a three-game series.