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Caravanning ‘Cats, Part Two: How NU women’s basketball alumnae are performing in professional leagues

Nia Coffey’s holding it down in the States, while a plethora of Wildcats are making their presences felt overseas.

Los Angeles Sparks v Dallas Wings Photo by Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images

During the NFL season, one of the staple pieces here at Inside NU is “Northwestern in the NFL,” in which we showcase how former Northwestern football players are faring in professional football. Pat Fitzgerald’s protégés have rightly drawn adequate attention — from Greg Newsome being named to Pro Football Focus’ All-Rookie Secondary to Ben Skowronek and Earnest Brown IV advancing to the Super Bowl, Wildcats have made their presences felt in the NFL.

What can easily fly under the radar, however, is the plethora of former Northwestern basketball players that aren’t just playing at the next level, but that are thriving in doing so.

After examining how Scottie Lindsey, Vic Law and other Pro ‘Cats are doing on the men’s side of things, we’ll take a look at the pro careers of some Joe McKeown products.

Nia Coffey

Ending her career in purple and white as Northwestern’s second all-time leading scorer, Coffey was the fifth overall pick in the 2017 WNBA Draft, where she was taken by the San Antonio Stars.

During her rookie season along the River Walk, Coffey played in 27 games (one start), averaging 1.8 points and 1.9 rebounds per contest.

In 2018, Coffey and the Stars moved to Las Vegas, where they became the Aces; Coffey played in 28 games, making 10 starts and seeing an uptick in scoring by posting 5.3 points per game.

Before the 2019 campaign, Coffey was sent to the Atlanta Dream in a multi-team trade. For the second straight year, the forward saw action in 28 games, but only started on six occasions.

Nearly 10 months later, Coffey was on the move yet again, this time joining the Phoenix Mercury. NU’s all-time leading rebounder played 25 matchups but saw only one start in the Valley of the Sun.

In 2021, Coffey inked a deal with the Los Angeles Sparks, where she played in all 32 games and got 17 starting nods. Coffey’s output exploded to the tune of 8.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 25.2 minutes per game, all of which were career highs under head coach Derek Fisher.

Following to the 2021 WNBA season, Coffey played overseas with Charleville-Mézières of France. Coffey led the squad in scoring with 12.1 points per matchup while partaking in nine of the team’s contests. In her most recent game on Jan. 16, Coffey compiled 16 points and seven rebounds.

On Feb. 1, Coffey returned to the WNBA signing a one-year deal to return to the Dream. Entering the 2022 campaign, Coffey is the only Northwestern player in the WNBA.

Lindsey Pulliam

Pulliam was drafted by the Dream in the third round (27th overall pick) of the 2021 WNBA Draft. ‘Cats fans around the world were soon disappointed to learn that the 2021 Wooden Award finalist wouldn’t initially play in America’s top flight of women’s basketball after she was cut on May 9, but she proceeded to join Elazig Il Ozel Idare of Turkey, where she starts at shooting guard. Pulliam averages 14.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. The 22-year-old had played in the team’s first 12 games but has missed the last four battles.

Abbie Wolf

Wolf signed with Club Deportivo Zamarat in Spain once her Wildcat career concluded. During the 2020-21 season, Wolf saw an average of 22.3 minutes per game in which she amassed an 8.1/4.3/0.6 stat line.

In July 2021, Wolf signed with Barca CBS of Spain’s Liga Femenina. As the starting center, Wolf has guided the team to an 18-1 record, appearing in all 19 contests with averages of 7.1 points and 5.8 boards per game.

Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah

NU’s all-time single-season rebounds leader had a brief stint with the Chicago Sky, staying close to Evanston before she was cut by the team on May 8, 2019.

Kunaiyi-Akpanah proceeded to venture overseas, becoming part of Italy’s Pallacanestro Vigarano for the 2019-20 season. The forward played in all 20 games and averaged 8.3 points and a gaudy 15.7 rebounds.

The following year, the Nigeria native headed to Belgium, playing with Namur-Capitale. Kunaiya-Akpanah suited up for 18 regular-season games, finishing with averages of over 12 points and rebounds per game. Thanks in large part to the 6-foot-2 Pro ‘Cat, Namur-Capitale won the Belgian Championship.

In 2021, Kunaiyi-Akpanah returned to Italy, this time via E-Work Faenza of Serie A1. The 24-year-old starts at power forward and is second in the league with an average of 14.2 rebounds per contest.

Oceana Hamilton

Hamilton went down under after leaving Evanston, heading to Australia to play for the Forestville Eagles. In 18 games, Hamilton averaged nearly a double-double (9.7 points and eight rebounds).

Then, the former Alabama transfer traveled nearly 9,000 miles, emigrating to Germany to become part of Capitol Bascats Duesseldorf. While playing all 17 games, Hamilton had splits of 9.7 points and 7.5 rebounds, the latter of which was second on the squad.

For the 2021-22 campaign, Hamilton crossed the Danube River and signed with the Leicester Riders of England. Hamilton has been named a weekly all-star six times within the Women’s British Basketball League and is first in blocks per game at 2.7.

Alexandra Cohen

Cohen has spent her entire professional career in Israel, playing for Ramat Chen (2015-16), Ramat Hasharon (2016-17), Elitzur Ramla (2017-19, 2020-21) and Ramat Gan (2019-20).

Currently, Cohen is on Maccabi Bnot Ashdod. Starting at power forward, Cohen has participated in all 17 games, accruing averages of 12.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, two assists and 1.4 blocks per matchup.