These two BYU women’s basketball players just signed professional contracts

Paisley Harding and Maria Albiero signed with a WNBA team and Brazilian squad, respectively

BYU's Paisley Harding (13) reacts after making a 3-point shot against Gonzaga during the first half of an NCAA women's championship college basketball game at the West Coast Conference tournament Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

BYU women’s basketball has enjoyed plenty of successful seasons throughout its history. But that hasn’t necessarily translated into players from the program moving on to the professional ranks.

There are a few former Cougars women who have gone pro, though. Jennifer Hamson, Erin Thorn and Ambrosia Anderson all played in the WNBA and overseas after their BYU careers. Tresa Hamson played two seasons in Europe. And Tina Gunn Robison was drafted by a team in the defunct Women’s Basketball League, but chose not to play.

But the Cougars have recently added two more alumnae to its list of pro athletes, and it happened in the same offseason.

Paisley Harding and Maria Albiero both signed contracts to play professionally within the last week. Harding signed a training camp contract with the Seattle Storm, while Albiero signed with Basquete Blumenau in her native Brazil’s LBF professional league for women.

“I guess it is cool because it hasn’t happened much here [at BYU],” Albiero told The Salt Lake Tribune when asked the significance of her and Harding going pro almost simultaneously. “So maybe we can start this path.”

BYU guard Maria Albiero (5) drives as Villanova forward Brianna Herlihy (14) defends during the second half of a college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2022, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Harding is a Washington native, so having the opportunity to compete for a roster spot in Seattle is a homecoming of sorts for her.

“I kind of feel like a hometown hero, almost, for the girls back in Everett,” Harding said in an interview with Storm media. “We can make it out of a small, little town and make it to the WNBA. It’s really nice that I got to come back to Seattle and be even invited to a training camp. I feel really blessed to be able to do that.”

On top of that, she’s getting the chance to play with women’s basketball legends Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Harding said. “My locker is right between the two of them and it’s kind of intimidating walking into the locker room. But they’ve been nothing but nice and willing to help out. But it really is surreal being able to kind of be in the same presence as them [and] just try to learn as much as I can from them.”

Albiero’s contract is for the remainder of the already ongoing season in the Brazilian league, she said. She added that the team covers her housing and meals, so any money she makes is discretionary.

Albiero expects to get a good amount of playing time as well.

“You can definitely count on that,” Albiero said.