Maya Moore left UConn in the spring of 2011 after one of the most success college careers anywhere. He was the first-overall pick in the WNBA draft and helped a middling Minnesota Lynx team to a championship in her first year.
Now Moore's reach has extended internationally. With the WNBA season over, Moore is playing for the Shanxi Flame in China where she's averaging a whopping 45 points a game.
"They show maybe five NBA games a week here," Moore told The Associated Press in a phone interview (via the Norwich Bulletin. "They get a good amount of coverage and people love it. We are starting to get a little more interest about our game."
China has become a basketball hotbed in recent years, a phenomenon that became evident during the '08 Olympics. And with Europe still recovering from an economic crisis, China has become the landing spot for some of the sport's best players. Details via the AP:
The former UConn star is earning mid-six figures, which is on a par with European salaries. While most European leagues go from October to May, China only plays till February. This will give Moore time to rest before the Minnesota Lynx open training camp in May. It also will provide the young face of women's basketball the opportunity to participate at the NBA All-Star game in February and be around for the women's Final Four.
"I think it's been a good introduction for a lot of the fans seeing some of the Olympic level women over here," Moore continued. "To see the talent it's been I think very surprising thing for the fans. Interest will continue to spark more of a demand for players and the basketball level will rise. This area of the world will continue to want basketball even more, elevating that market."
Since Moore joined the team, the Flame have lost just once, and in her third game, Moore dropped 60 points in a nationally televised outing.
"The game was against one of the army teams," Moore said. "They don't have a foreigner and they are very prideful. The first quarter I was in a zone feeling good. I hit seven 3's in the first quarter. It gave me a jump start on the 60."
These are conversations very few people on the planet have ever had.