By Natalie Fiorilli | The Duquesne Duke
Nine players can now say they’ve made it to the pros under the guidance of women’s basketball coach Dan Burt.
The two latest contract-signings occurred in January. Raegan Moore, a 2014 graduate, will play in Äänekoski, Finland, while Belma Nurkic of the 2015 graduating class, will compete in Östersund, Sweden.
Burt explained that wanting to play professionally is an aspect he looks for in all Duquesne recruits. “Every player we sign into our program, I expect to sign a pro contract upon graduation,” Burt said.
Moore – a Girard, Pennsylvania native – made program history, while also tying the Atlantic 10 record, making nine 3-pointers in one game during her senior season. She also racked up 35 points in a game, the most of any A-10 player during the 2014 season.
The now 25-year-old Moore was surprised by the offer from Finland, considering she graduated just over a year ago.
“My initial reaction to signing a contract was like when you’re a kid and you did well on a test in school, you immediately want to run home and tell your mom,” Moore said. “I wasn’t really holding my breath to get any offers from teams. I still can’t believe that after all that time off someone took a chance on me.”
Nurkic, who grew up in Baldwin, recorded 118 3-pointers as a Duke, being one of only 12 players in program history to pass the century mark. She holds a Duquesne record for the best foul line percentage, managing 93.8 percent from the line during her senior year.
Playing professionally has always been a dream for Nurkic, who became an assistant to the Keystone Oaks High School girls’ basketball team in Pittsburgh this past year.
“I was hoping to get a contract,” Nurkic said. “I enjoyed [coaching], but playing basketball is a different feel than just being around it.”
A sophomore transfer from Valparaiso, Moore improved dramatically in her time at Duquesne. She gradually increased her playing time each season leading up to her senior year, when she became a key player for the Dukes, according to Burt.
Moore credited her opportunity of playing professionally to the coaching staff and the facilities offered at Duquesne.
“Duquesne helped me in a basketball sense first and foremost,” Moore said. “A lot of my teammates were foreign, allowing me to become cultured as a player. Looking back now, I’m proud to have been a part of a team with such diversity. It made me a better player on and off the court.”
Burt also explained that both Moore and Nurkic were dedicated to hard-work and practice, especially through spending a majority of their time at the school gym.
“[Moore] shoots it very well with range, can guard and most importantly, is mature and able to handle different cultures and experiences with tact and maturity. [Nurkic] is a young woman who is driven, tough and pushes for what she wants in life. She will always be a success with that mentality.”
Moore and Nurkic will reestablish their basketball careers, heading overseas to represent new teams. Moore is set to compete for Huima, of the Suomen Mestaruussarja league, as for Nurkic, she will play on the Swedish D-3 team the KFUM Östersund Basket.
Both look forward to the experience of playing European basketball. Moore included seeing the Northern Lights at the top of her to-do list, and Nurkic, originally from Estonia, looks forward to returning to Europe, but can’t wait to get back on the court.
“Getting the opportunity to just play the game I love is enough for me,” Nurkic said.