BLOOMINGTON — Olivia Lett has spent the past few months “mowing grass and cleaning dryer vents” for a local lawn care company. Soon, she’ll go back to cutting to the basket and cleaning the glass.
Lett has signed a professional basketball contract with a team in Ferrol, Spain, five months after leading Illinois Wesleyan to the NCAA Division III national championship.
The national tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and a first-team All-American, Lett will begin training camp on Sept. 15 for a season that runs from Oct. 20 through March 30, with one game per week.
The 6-foot Lett signed with agent Carlos Ayesa shortly after the national tournament and has been awaiting an opportunity.
“About two weeks ago we got an offer from a team in the third league in Spain,” Lett said. “We kind of held off and hoped to get one in the second league (which includes Ferrol). When this came around, we went with it.”
Lett signed a seven-month contract to cover the length of the season. She is the first player in head coach Mia Smith’s 15-year tenure to sign a pro contact and the second in IWU women’s basketball history, joining Lila Nafziger.
“It’s something you always hope for and work for as a little kid,” said Lett, who starred at Pana High School and transferred to IWU from Southern Illinois. “You always have that dream of being a professional athlete.
“It’s kind of cool to be able to say I’ve finally reached that level. Obviously there is still room for movement up. But I am a professional athlete, and that’s a cool thing to say.”
Lett averaged 21.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per game as a senior at IWU. She had 22 points and seven rebounds in the Titans’ 57-48 title-game win over George Fox.
She was named the D3hoops.com national Player of the Year after setting IWU season records for points (719), field goals (251), free throws (167) and blocked shots (37).
“It’s been a lot of balancing between still making some money and working out,” Lett said of the past few months. “You never really know if you’ll get that contract. You have to continue on with life at the same time you’re trying to stay in shape (to play).
“I’m pretty exited to get back on the court. I’ll leave mowing grass to somebody else.”