by Bruce Strand, Sports Editor
When Tempestt Wilson was near the end of her college basketball career at South Dakota last March, she couldn’t imagine life without her favorite sport.
“I want to keep this basketball thing going as long as possible,” said Wilson, Elk River’s all-time girls scoring leader, in a Sioux Falls Argus feature story. “I am having too much fun.”
Wilson, who just turned 23, was able to extend her basketball life by signing a pro contract with a team in Portugal called GDESSA this fall. And she got off to a good start.
However, the 5-10 guard had to come home after a month due to stress fractures in her right foot. The Star News contacted her Monday.
“It’s hard to be sitting around and not playing,” said Wilson, who’s wearing a boot and rehabilitating as much as she can. “I just have to be patient. I’ve been praying, and I’m at home and have my family’s support. I’m sure I’ll be back soon.”
Wilson led GDESSA in scoring and rebounding in four exhibition games, but prior to the season opener, she realized that “something was wrong with my foot.” After having the team trainer look at it, and not getting good news, she decided to return home for medical treatment. She learned that a navicular bone and two metatarsal bones had fractures.
Having no previous trouble with her foot, Wilson figured it happened because she was overworked by the GDESSA coach. In the semi-pro league she played in, teams have two paid Americans, and the rest of the lineup is amateur natives.
“They want to get everything they can out of the players who are getting paid,” she noted.
Wilson said she savored her short visit to Portugal. The team was based in a small town, Barreiro, with lovely scenery. A boat ride to the capitol, Lisbon, cost only the equivalent of two bucks. Wilson and the other American, Stephanie Sension (of Hopkins and UW-Green Bay), took that trip several times.
“I was blessed to be able to see a part of the world I’ve never been,” she said, “even if it didn’t turn out the way I wanted.”
Wilson, who also had an offer from a team in Turkey this summer, said she likely won’t return to the Portugese team, but her agent, Jean King, is looking around for another opportunity, and she’s determined to be ready when it comes. She did graduate from USD with a degree in journalism.
There’s lots of good players looking for a limited number of openings on teams in Europe and China, Wilson noted. In the U.S., of course, there’s just one star-studded women’s pro league, the WNBA, with only 12 teams, and no lower leagues.
Wilson, who scored 1,783 points for the Elks and 992 for South Dakota, said she might take in an Elk game as long as she’s home, anyway, but hasn’t seen her hometown play since she graduated.
She asked the Star News if her school record is safe. Told that the Elks have a sophomore, Abi Scheid, with a chance to break it, she said, “Oh, I’ll have to go see her play, then.”