Former Wolf Pack basketball player pursues career overseas


Zach Brien

Former Wolfpack point guard Janecia Neely (above) drives to the basket for a lay in and attacks the defense during a game against Ad Vagos and Ovarense on Oct. 10 and 11. Neely is off a solid start to her career oversees, averaging 14 points and 5.2 assists per game through the first two games of the season.

Mark Robinson

The average college student’s time as an athlete usually spans four years, but for Janeicia Neely, she took her career as an athlete a step further.

Neely, former point guard for the Loyola Wolf Pack women’s basketball team, had bigger dreams than most college athletes.

While most of them go on to graduate and begin their careers in the workplace, Neely chose to pursue a lifelong dream of playing basketball overseas. She is currently playing in Portugal for the Lisboa Benifica, a European club that sponsors men’s and women’s basketball teams. For Neely, this has been the ultimate goal since her days with the Pack.

“I first began thinking of playing overseas after my sophomore season. I always knew that I could use basketball as a gateway to more opportunities like the one I have now,” Neely said.

The former point guard joins fellow alumna Kieva Council as the only two players from the Loyola women’s team to pursue a career overseas. Both Neely and her former Wolf Pack coach Kellie Kennedy recognize the significance of this kind of accomplishment.

“It says a lot for our program and a lot for her talent that we have kids who can leave here and go play at the next level,” Kennedy said.

According to Kennedy, playing overseas can be a challenge for guards. She credits Neely’s work ethic and perseverance as her primary tools that led her to this opportunity.

“It says a lot for Janeicia and the fact that she came here and trusted us, and has worked extremely hard to get where she is. I cannot take that credit. The fact that she has been able to put in work when no one else is around is great to see it all pay off,” Kennedy said.

Neely has no thoughts of slowing down anytime soon. For her, this is her life.

“I am doing something that only 2 percent of athletes get to achieve. I am lucky and grateful to have this opportunity. Playing basketball is now my job,” Neely said.