Former Viking Gradwell signs professional contract in Greece

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Cleveland State graduate Isabelle Gradwell has signed with Greece’s PAS Giannina, the team announced on July 20th, making the versatile 6-1 wing the most recent former Viking to break into professional basketball.

PAS Giannina competes in the top-division A1 Ethniki Women’s Basketball League and finished in ninth place with a 7-15 record last season, while advancing to the final four of Greece’s domestic cup competition. Though Greek basketball has historically been dominated by a select few (Olympiacos has won seven of the last eight titles, though they still have a ways to go to catch Sporting Athens’ record 21 championships), Giannina seems intent on taking their best shot at things in their fifth straight season at the A1 level. In addition to Gradwell, the club located in the small northern city of Ioannina recently signed former Omaha center Elena Pilakouta along with Anacia Wilkinson, a Tennessee Tech grad who played in Czechia last season, and a few key returners like team captain Dina Sarigiannidou, who scored 12.2 points per game last year.

Gradwell’s career at Cleveland State will always be closely associated with the Vikings’ rise to prominence during the first four years of Chris Kielsmeier’s tenure, given that she signed during the summer of 2018, shortly after Kielsmeier’s hiring. The Marshalltown, IA native became part of a core group that launched CSU’s still-active streak of Horizon League semifinal appearances in 2019-20, and was an every-game starter by the time the program won its first-ever postseason tournament championship at the 2021 Women’s Basketball Invitational. In the green and white, Gradwell averaged 4.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in each of her 115 games.

After receiving a health sciences degree in 2022, she moved on to a grad transfer year at Minnesota last season, and made a large impact despite a relatively brief stay in the Twin Cities as the team captain, and also its nominee for the Big Ten’s sportsmanship award.

With the Gophers, Gradwell evolved into much more of a three-point specialist, including connecting at a 35.1 percent rate from deep overall – her career-best mark by a full 8.5 percent – and highlights like a corner triple with 0.3 seconds remaining that represented the decisive points against Nebraska on February 15th. That moment unofficially launched a hot streak to close the year, including hitting 10-for-20 from behind the arc and scoring 34 total points against Michigan State, Purdue, and then Penn State in the conference tournament. She also added a couple things most three-point specialists don’t in her 17 minutes per game: 2.6 rebounds and 0.3 blocks.

Now, she’ll take her uniquely-styled game to the professional ranks and attempt to carve out a similar niche as a dependable difference maker.

The Gradwell news comes on the heels of the professional signing of one of her former Vikings teammates, Barb Zieniewska, in Iceland. Another, Taylah Levy, just completed her rookie season in her native Australia’s NBL1. Other CSU alumnae currently competing in pro ball include 2015 graduate Cori Coleman and 2013 graduate Shalonda Winton.

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