Apr. 8, 2020
It’s not everyday that three women who played collegiate basketball together are now playing professional basketball overseas at the same time. However, for Biola alumni Adijat Adams (’14), Charrise Reece (’12) and Jessilyn Conicelli (’11) that happens to be the case.
The three women played together at Biola during the 2010-2011 season, when the team went 25-7 overall (16-4 GSAC). The trio are three of the most significant figures in recent Biola Women’s Basketball history, as they hold 46 top-10 individual season records, eight top-10 individual game records and 39 top-10 individual career records.
“It’s fun to see a true post like Dij [Adams] and a small forward like Jessi [Conicelli] and then a point guard like Charrise, all products of Biola, being able to go and have successful careers overseas,” said Dr. Bethany Miller, who coached all three women. “The three of them very much are good friends,” said Miller. “They support one another in what they’re doing.”
In January, Adams joined the Residence Walfer in the Luxembourg basketball league where Conicelli plays on the Etzella Ettelbruck. Reece plays for the Red Dragons in a German professional league. Reece and Adams are in their first professional season, while Conicelli is in her third.
Prior to playing with Etzella, Conicelli played for Jeugd Gentson in Belgium. Etzella is currently 16-3 and in a position to compete for the league championship.
Her journey to reach the professional level began during her senior year at Biola when she got an agent to represent her. After graduating, she expected to receive news before August; however, in September she still had not heard anything and got herself a job at LA Fitness.
Three weeks into her job, her agent contacted her with news that a Belgian team was interested in acquiring her. After speaking with a youth pastor whose wife went to Biola, Conicelli decided she needed to take the offer from Belgium.
“A day later I was on a plane to a country I knew nothing about, by myself, with no phone and no idea what lied on the other side,” said Conicelli.
Her time on the court at Biola prepared her mentally and physically for her career overseas. Apart from coaches helping her develop into a strong player, she gained the confidence to pursue her goal to become a professional.
The things she learned from her biblical studies minor help her represent Christ during her time in Europe. As a believer in leading by example, she hopes her actions bring people to know God.
“Not only am I able to present a compelling argument for Christ, but I am able to communicate it in a loving way,” Conicelli said. “I try to bring Christ to them by living in love and sharing the truth.”
Adams began playing for the Residence Walfer at the start of playoff season this January. Despite playing just two games with the team thus far, Adams has contributed 36 points and led her team to a 1-1 mark.
Although there are challenges that come with living in a foreign country, Adams is excited for what lies ahead. At Biola, she was taught to play basketball for God’s glory instead of just for herself. This has helped her remain confident and grateful for the experience she is having.
“One major challenge is being away from family and not being able to hug them,” Adams said. “But I’ve learned to enjoy my time here, continue to stay positive at all times, and give God all the praise everyday.”
After her professional career concludes, Adams is contemplating the idea of starting a non-profit organization to help children and teenagers embrace their artistic side. The non-profit would hold art activities, art studies and trips to art museums.
However, before starting the non-profit, Adams hopes to play basketball as long as God allows her to. The way she’s playing through her first few games, it seems as if her basketball career could go on for a long time.
Adams and Conicelli play in the same league and live in the same city.
Despite graduating from Biola with a degree in sociology and concentration in criminal justice in 2012, Reece did not begin playing professional basketball until Sept. 2014. During the time in between she was involved with News Release Basketball ministry, in which she traveled to Germany and Belgium to play basketball and share the gospel. She also worked as an assistant coach under Miller.
“A player and manager remembered me through this ministry,” said Reece. “They asked if I would be willing to play and try to help their team move up in league.”
The team, Red Dragons from Königs Wusterhausen, Germany, is currently in competition for one of the top three spots in league with the help of Reece’s versatile play at guard.
Reece says living in another country makes it hard to face the unknown, but the experience is eye opening and has led her to establish better relationships with people on and off the basketball court.
“Biola not only helped mold how I connect and relate with others, but how I choose to walk by faith on this journey with The Lord,” Reece said. “I wouldn’t be who and where I am today without some of the great coaches, players and people I came to know through Biola.”
Reece wants to play and coach basketball for as long as she can. Once she is done she is interested in going into law enforcement and has prior experience working with at-risk youth.
“I really enjoy working with kids in general and at-risk ones were the ones I had the pleasure to work with,” said Reece. “It’s very hard work, but I did enjoy it and learn so much from it.”
These three made a huge impact on and off the court during their time at Biola, but now God has opened up new doors for them to have an influence on others and experience growth as professionals halfway across the globe. It’s a rarity, but a very special time as the Eagles have three strong representatives for the university and for Christ playing and serving in Europe.
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