Tanesha Sutton will continue her basketball career abroad.
The University of Maine’s first-team All-America East guard has signed a professional contract to play for the Norrkoping Dolphins in Sweden’s Division I league.
The 5-foot-10-inch Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native averaged 14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game last season to lead the Black Bears to their second consecutive America East regular-season and tournament championships, and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
She ranked among the top 10 in the league and second on the team in all four categories.
Sutton led the team in field-goal shooting at 49 percent and also shot 78.4 percent from the free-throw line.
“I’m extremely happy and excited,” Sutton said. “This is a dream come true. I’m happy to start a new journey.”
Sutton, who transferred to UMaine from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, scored 1,096 points in her three seasons with the Black Bears to place 20th on the school’s all-time scoring list. Her 617 rebounds are 12th best.
Sutton had been working on her master’s degree in human development but said the urge to keep playing prompted her to take a leave of absence to pursue a pro career.
“I had to keep [playing],” she said. “But I will come back and finish my master’s.”
Before signing her contract, Sutton reached out to former UMaine teammate Mikaela Gustafsson, who is from Sweden and played professional basketball in her home country.
“My agent did all the work, and I did some research on [Norrkoping],” Sutton said. “After talking to Mikaela I realized it was a good fit for me. It’s definitely going to be a new experience. I’m ready for it.”
Sutton knows playing in Sweden’s top league will be a step up from college but she is anxious to prove herself.
She has worked out with three trainers this summer to prepare for her pro career, one for basketball, a second for weight training and the third for agility.
“I’ve been working on all aspects of my game,” she said.
Sutton signed a one-year deal and said she is “very happy” with it, although she declined to discuss financial details. The team has supplied her with a place to live.
She will leave for Sweden in August. The seven-month basketball season begins in September.
A second-team All-America East selection two years ago, Sutton concluded her UMaine career averaging 11.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 98 games.
She will be one of four former Black Bears playing overseas.
Sigi Koizar will play for Enisey Krasnoyarsk in Russia this season after spending two years in Hungary, while Chantel Charles plays in Spain.
Sutton said Gustafsson will be moving on to play in Germany this coming season.
UMaine head coach Amy Vachon said she was thrilled about Sutton’s opportunity.
“The Norrkoping Dolphins are getting a great one. We’re all excited,” she said.