Ex-Lobo De La Cerda is eager to start again, this time Down Under - Albuquerque Journal

Ex-Lobo De La Cerda is eager to start again, this time Down Under

Jaedyn De La Cerda is following up her stellar basketball career at New Mexico by starting a pro career at a lower-level league in Australia. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

From Roswell to Albuquerque to South Australia.

It’s not a journey Jaedyn De La Cerda ever envisioned making, but make it she will. And when she completes the final leg later this month, De La Cerda will have a job title she’s always wanted, that of professional basketball player.

“Professional basketball player — that sounds pretty good,” said De La Cerda, the Roswell native and former University of New Mexico women’s standout. “I’ve never been to Australia but I feel like this is such a great opportunity. I’m so excited.”

De La Cerda will play for the Southern Tigers in Australia’s NBL1 Central league. The team is based in Noarlunga City.

 

It’s not a place or a team De La Cerda knew much about prior to receiving an unexpected opportunity to extend her playing career. Coming off a season in which she earned All-Mountain West honors and moved into the top 10 of UNM’s career scoring leaders, De La Cerda thought it was time to hang up her basketball sneakers.

“I wasn’t going to play at all,” she said. “I was thinking it was time to see what’s next for me. But when this opportunity came up, my mom told me she didn’t want me to have any regrets. That’s when I decided to really look into it, and I liked everything I heard.”

The chance to play in Australia came in roundabout fashion. It started with another former New Mexico prep standout, Teige Zeller, who went on to play collegiately at Nevada after finishing her career at Los Lunas High.

Zeller (now Teige Morrell) went on to play for the Southern Tigers and was NBL1 Central MVP in 2021. Her former coach at Nevada, Amanda Levens, told UNM coach Mike Bradbury about the Australian club, and things ultimately came together from there, De La Cerda said.

“It’s kind of a lower-level team, but it’s a chance to get my name out there,” she said. “There are some really good women’s pro leagues in Australia, so hopefully I can play well and climb the ladder. I’ve been in the gym like crazy. It’s a four-month season, so I’m giving it my best shot.”

De La Cerda said she’s been in contact with team officials, including a current player who encouraged her to give the Aussie league a try.

“She gave me a lot of information and we seem to have a lot in common,” De La Cerda said. “I’ll be living by the beach, too. I’m definitely down with that.”

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