Mission native Taylor Claggett (left) and Chilliwack’s Deanna Tuchscherer are both heading to Europe to play professional basketball later this year. (UFV Athletics photo)

Pair of UFV women’s basketball stars sign with European clubs

Mission's Taylor Claggett, Chilliwack's Deanna Tuchscherer ink deals in Ireland, Hungary

Two players from last season’s University of the Fraser Valley Cascades women’s basketball team are heading to Europe to play at the professional level.

Mission’s Taylor Claggett and Chilliwack’s Deanna Tuchscherer, key pieces of last season’s club, have inked deals with clubs in Ireland and Hungary respectively.

Claggett, who graduated from UFV in the spring, will suit up for Maree Basketball Club in Galway, Ireland. Maree is part of the Women’s Super League, the top tier of women’s basketball in Ireland.

An MEI grad, Claggett was a two-time Canada West all-star and earned a U Sports second team All-Canadian nod in her final year at that level. She won the CW rebounding title (10.4 per game), finished second in the scoring race (19.6 points per game), and averaged 3.4 assists to finish ninth in the conference. She was the only player to rank top-10 in CW in all three categories in 2019-20.

She departed UFV as the program’s all-time leading scorer and broke CW records for free throws in a season and career and also career minutes per game.

“It’s kind of crazy that I can now call myself a pro basketball player,” Claggett stated in a press release. “I’m really excited to get back on the court again, but I’m nervous, too. I’m a homebody, so it’ll be a big step. But I’m ready for a new challenge – this is just a different type of challenge than I’m used to.

“The coach was telling me that the style of play over there is very physical, and from watching my game tape, he thinks I’ll be a good fit. Going in there as an international player, I’ll need to be ready to do my job right away.”

Tuchscherer took home the CW rookie of the year in her debut season in 2019-20, and was also named a Canada West third team all-star and a U Sports all-rookie team member.

The 6’1″ forward out of Chilliwack’s G.W. Graham Secondary finished second on the team to Claggett in scoring (15.4 points per game, 10th in CW) and rebounds (6.2), and set a Cascades team record for points in a CW game with 35 vs. Trinity Western on Jan. 16. She also led all rookies nation-wide in total points (308) and field goals (123).

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She will now be taking a one-year hiatus at UFV to join ZTE NKK in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary, playing in that nation’s top league, the NB I/A.

Her father, Al Tuchscherer is the longtime head coach of the UFV women’s team.

“It’s definitely scary, but it’s also an adventure,” she stated, adding that she plans to take UFV online courses towards her kinesiology degree while she’s in Hungary. “I think I can grow a lot on and off the court, taking this leap.

“For me, the big thing is, it’s the best opportunity for me to make the most out of this year and develop as a player. I’ll get to continue to play competitively, and it’s not a guarantee that we’ll get to do that to the level we want this year (in Canada).

“I’ll get to play against older, stronger, more experienced women, and I’ll gain experience. It’ll be a different style of basketball – all across the world, there are different flairs to the game. It’s the same game at the heart of it, but I’ll get to learn different things that they do there that we wouldn’t maybe think to do here.”

The Canada West basketball season has been postponed until at least January, with a decision on a possible second-semester schedule to be made by Oct. 8. Given that uncertainty, Tuchscherer felt that taking the opportunity to develop in a pro basketball setting was a wise move. Her four remaining seasons of eligibility will be intact when she returns to UFV in the fall of 2021.

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