Players from Israel, Sweden commit to University of Maine women’s basketball team

Posted April 12, 2012, at 5:45 p.m.

ORONO — Guard Michal Assaf of Israel and forward Mikaela Gustafsson have signed National Letters of Intent to play for the University of Maine women’s basketball team, head coach Richard Barron announced in a press release Thursday.

“We are very excited about these two prospects joining our program and we also look forward to sharing more good news of other signees in the near future,” Barron said.

Assaf, 5-foot-6, is from Ganey Tikva, Israel. She has spent the past two seasons with the the U-18 National Team of Israel.

She was the youngest player on the national team in both 2010 and 2011 but started all 17 games in the two years she was part of the roster. In 2010, Assaf assisted her B.C. Habikaa Youth Team to a championship while also playing on a B.C. Habikaa women’s team which placed 10th.

A year later, Assaf again played a big part in leading the youth team to a championship while assisting the women’s team to third place and an eighth-place finish in the first division. Assaf was runner-up for best defensive player of the women’s league in 2011. She racked up 23.5 minutes of play while averaging 6.6 points and three rebounds with the Israeli U-18 National squad.

“Michal is a dynamic point guard who has a great knack for finding gaps and creating off the dribble,” Barron said. “Michal has played at a very high level with FIBA [the International Basketball Federation] playing for Israel’s national 18U team and also has played as one of the youngest members of any senior Division I program in Israel on the team B.C. Habikaa. She is a capable scorer and crafty penetrator as well as an aggressive defender.”

The 6-2 Gustafsson is from Sodertalje, Sweden, and joins the Black Bears after playing for Telge Basket and Kringlan Basket. Gustafsson started every game for Kringlan in 2011-12 while averaging 31.0 minutes and averaging 11.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

Gustafsson also competed at a top level while playing for the Swedish National U-18 team as well as in the Euro Cup for her club team, Telge Basket.

“Mikaela is a very versatile forward with great playing experience at a high level with both the Swedish National 18U team as well as her club team, Telge Basket, that competes in the Euro Cup division,” said Barron. “She has great size, three-point range, the ability to drive to the basket and the ability to post up. Mikaela is a dedicated player and is very excited about coming to join us here at Maine.”

Assaf and Gustafsson join Lauren Bodine (Louisville, Ky.), Brittany Wells (Indianapolis) and Elizabeth Wood (Catlee, Va.) as incoming freshmen. They signed their letters of intent in the fall.

The eligibility of all student-athletes is contingent upon admission to the University of Maine and compliance with all NCAA rules, including registration with the NCAA Clearinghouse.

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