Friday, November 20, 2020
The latest batch of talent to be added to the Kansas women’s basketball roster came from overseas, with Brandon Schneider’s program landing three international prospects during the early signing period which wrapped up this week.
KU received letters of intent from 6-foot-4 center Danai Papadopoulou, of Greece, 5-11 guard Sanna Ström, of Sweden and 6-4 forward Matea Nikolic, of North Macedonia.
“We’re super excited (about) our 2021 class,” Schneider said in a news release announcing the signings. “We’ve added two front-line players as well as another big shooting guard. All three of these signees possess high-level international experience, good size and skill level at their positions and exceptional basketball IQs. As a staff, we feel these young women fit our culture and vision for the program perfectly.”
The influx of international players adds to a recent trend taking place at KU. The Jayhawks’ 2020-21 roster features four newcomers who came from outside of the United States and one of them, 6-2 freshman forward Ioanna Chatzileonti, played with Papadopoulou on the Greek national team.
Schneider dubs Papadopoulou as a skilled back-to-the-basket post player with good hands, good feet and nice touch around the rim.
She chose Kansas over Wisconsin, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Robert Morris and Louisiana Tech.
“I am really excited about this opportunity,” Papadopoulou said in the release. “I love what Kansas has to offer and the history of the program. Coach Brandon and coach Jhasmin (Player) spoke with me and my family about how awesome everything is in Lawrence and I was sold. I’m excited to join the family.”
Ström comes to Kansas after leading her 16U Swedish national team to a first-place finish at the European Championships. She also won titles at the Swedish Championships and with her club team at the Division I level.
Schneider calls Ström a tough player on both ends of the floor who has deep range and can score inside, in the mid-range and from behind the 3-point line.
Ström chose KU over Marquette, Illinois, Texas, Wyoming, Rutgers, Indiana and Texas Tech.
“When I was on campus, I really liked everything,” Ström said in the release. “I also liked all the coaches and they were very welcoming. I felt like Kansas would be a good fit because of those things and also the way they play and their ambitions for the future.”
Nikolic is another signee with experience at the European Championships, having competed with her national team as the youngest player on the squad and one of the youngest in the entire tournament.
Schneider said her size and strength make her a difficult matchup and that she has the potential to take KU’s front court to a new level.
Nikolic chose Kansas over Oregon, Syracuse, Rhode Island, UCLA, Arizona and Miami.
“I love the history of Kansas basketball,” Nikolic said in the release. “I am impressed with everything KU has to offer (and) am really looking forward to playing with the team, especially the international players. I also enjoyed getting to know the staff during the recruiting process. They all believe in coach Brandon’s coaching philosophy.”
Schneider’s squad finished 15-14 overall, with a 4-14 mark in the Big 12, and will look to build on a finish that delivered three wins in their final six games.
The KU women are scheduled to open the 2020-21 season at 6 p.m. Wednesday at home against Northern Colorado at Allen Fieldhouse.