A young woman who grew up in Kāpiti has signed a professional basketball contract to play in Europe.

Jacinta Beckley played for Kāpiti Hoop Club before a scholarship took her to Seattle University where she was soon excelling in the university's woman's team.

Last month Beckley played for the New Zealand national team, starting all five games as the Tall Ferns won the William Jones Cup for the first time.

She's now signed with the Budapest University Athletics Club (Budapesti Egyetemi Atletikai Club) in Hungary and will begin her pro career next month.


The club plays in the top division in Hungary's pro league.

Jacinta Beckley with Hoop Club Kapiti's Angelo Robinson.
Jacinta Beckley with Hoop Club Kapiti's Angelo Robinson.

"Playing professional basketball, or any sport, is something every kid dreams of.

"I'm beyond excited to be another step closer to fulfilling my dreams.

"I can't wait to get to Hungary, meet my new coaches and teammates, and get to work."

Beckley had a solid senior season and she remained committed during the spring in elevating her game and her overall strength and conditioning, Seattle University women's basketball coach Suzy Barcomb said.

"With her success with the New Zealand team at the Jones Cup, I'm not surprised she was able to sign a professional contract.

"It's rewarding for her and our programme.

"We are very proud of her accomplishments and look forward to following her success."


Beckley has always dreamed of becoming a professional athlete.

"I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but anyone who knows me knows just how much I want it and how hard I am willing to work to get there.

"A couple of years ago I thought this dream might be only that, a dream, but during my junior year at Seattle University when my hand was broken I had a coach from another team approach me and tell me to look after my hand, not to come back too soon and make sure I do everything I need to do in order to get it back to normal because my hands are my tools and I need them to be successful.

"He then said that I had the potential to go pro if I wanted to.

"It was that moment I realised that maybe it wasn't just a dream and I could actually do it.

"So my mentality changed from trying to be the best player I could be for my team to be successful, to doing everything in my power now to set me up for the future."

Beckley found skills trainer Nars Martinez, who wasn't affiliated with the school, and they spent "endless hours in the gym working on my ball handling, finishes, shooting, post moves, and everything else I needed to elevate my game to the next level".

"Working on my skills and developing is something I find fun, I honestly prefer training over playing a game.

"There's no better feeling than mastering something you couldn't once do."

After her team's successful senior season Beckley signed with Hello Again Agency to help her find somewhere to play.

"Selecting an agent was hard and stressful.

"I didn't know who was being honest, telling me what I wanted to hear or if they were legitimate.

"I had numerous conversations with different people who were interested in representing me, but I just couldn't trust some of them.

"Hello Again Agency were real with me and told me what to expect my rookie year, not to get paid a lot, but to find a team I fit into that will help develop me for next year which will be a better contract and maybe even a better team if I perform.

"After I came back from Tall Ferns when we landed in Auckland I had a message from my agent telling me a coach from Hungary wanted to chat and was interested in signing me.

"I signed with my agent back in June so started losing hope a little.

"We'd had interest from some other coaches, but coaches can also be all talk and offer you something that they can't actually give so finding a team that does fulfil their promises isn't always easy.

"The conversation with the Hungary coaches went well and they want me over there in September.

"I am super excited to start this next chapter of my life and see where it takes me.

"It has been awesome coming home and working out every day.

"I did some awesome strength and conditioning training with Mat Brown at 318, Gavin Cross at Exodus, and Angelo Robinson who has been extremely supportive throughout this whole process.

"I can't wait to get over there, but it's not going to be real until I get over there and don't understand a single word they're all saying."