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By KEVIN TRESOLINI
NEWARK -- Vanessa Kabongo, a 5-foot-9 guard from Toronto, Canada, has signed a national letter of intent to join the University of Delaware women's basketball program, coach Tina Martin said Thursday.
Kabongo, 17, will be a freshman this fall. She now attends Canada Basketball's National Elite Development Academy in Hamilton, Ontario. The NEDA was created in December 2005 as a residential training center for Canada's top youth basketball players.
Kabongo, who is originally from the Congo, played for the Canadian U20 team at the FIBA Americas qualifying tournament in Mexico City last year. Martin spotted her playing for the NEDA team at the Boo Williams Invitational Tournament in Norfolk last month.
"I walked into the gym and Vanessa caught my eye right away," Martin said. "We're very excited about her coming to Delaware. She's a very good athlete, we needed another guard and we felt she fit the bill."
Kabongo visited Delaware this past weekend and came away impressed. She had earlier been offered a scholarship by Central Connecticut State. Arkansas and Delaware's Colonial Athletic Association rival James Madison had also recently shown strong interest, she said.
"The team had energy and they were very welcoming," Kabongo said of Delaware. "It felt very natural. And I really like the coach and what she wanted to accomplish and her focus on details.
"I want to play on a good team and, like every player, have a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. At Delaware, that seemed attainable. They've been a consistent winner."
Delaware has won 19 or more games eight straight years and earned its second NCAA berth last season, going 26-6.