Santa Barbara’s Amber Melgoza fulfilled a dream when she signed a contract to become a professional basketball player. She signed with a team in Italy’s Serie A1. (University of Washington photo)

��I’m excited to announce that I just signed to be play professionally in Battipaglia, Italy. I can’t thank my family and friends enough for always supporting me. Thanks to coach @CoachJWynn for this. Thanks to my agent @livonglobal & @anitaosmith! Ready to start playing!!

— Amber Melgoza (@AmberMelgoza) July 13, 2020

Santa Barbara’s Amber Melgoza signed a professional basketball contract with Polisportiva Battipagliese of Italy, she announcd Monday on Twitter.

Melgoza was a star player at Santa Barbara High and the University of Washington.

She averaged 18.1 points per game in her last three years with the Huskies and finished eighth on Washington’s all-time scoring list with 1,717 points. She was named to the All-Pac 12 team this past season.

“We are so proud and happy for Amber signing a professional contract to play basketball overseas in Italy,” Washington coach Jody Wynn said. “She will be playing in the top Italian division and able to compete against WNBA-level talent.  

“Amber leaves UW as one of the greatest players in Husky history and has a long and bright pro career ahead,” Wynn added. “There is no doubt in my mind that Amber has what it takes to play in the WNBA, and this is a great first step in her professional basketball journey.”

At SBHS, she is the girls basketball program’s all-time leading scorer with more than 2700 points. She led the Dons to a CIF-SS championship and CIF State runner-up finish as a sophomore and was named the CIF Division 3 Player of the Year. She averaged 33 points as a junior and 26 points during her senior year, and was named to the All-CIF Open Division team.

In an interview on the Battipagliese team website, Melgoza said “it’s surreal” that she’s become a professional basketball player. “I’m about to start a new chapter in my life. I’ve always dreamed of playing basketball professionally since I was a kid.”

She admits being far away from her family is scary, “but I know they will support me to the end.”

Battipaglia is located in the Salerno province in southwestern Italy. The area is renowned for the production of buffalo mozzarella.

After battling against tough teams in the Pac 12 over the last four years, Melgoza told the website she is aware of the competitiveness in the Italian Serie A1.

“I am excited about the opportunity to meet talented players every week,” she said.

Battipaglia inarrestabile! ��dopo Sara Bocchetti arriva Amber Melgoza ad infiammare la tifoseria battipagliese.
����Colpo internazionale. E che colpo.
Scopri di più su #ForzaBattipaglia #PB63

— Basket Battipaglia (@PB_1963) July 13, 2020

Known for her relentless drive, Melgoza said she wants to help the Battipaglia club (also known at PB63) reach the Italian championship in her rookie year.

“I will certainly have to learn from my new teammates,” she said. “I want to help my team in every way possible and become a complete player. I want to help my team win and I want to bring a mentality that drives us to seek victory every time we take the floor.”

Battipagliese coach Giuseppe Piazza said he was  immediately impressed with Melgoza after watching video of her playing for Washington.

“It was enough for me to see a few images of a game played a few months ago by her Washington team to understand that this is a player with important qualities, not just techniques,” he said on the team website. “Her style of play and way of communicating suggest that we are getting an athlete who plays with passion, heart and leadership.

“Amber is a modern playmaker who can score in many ways,” he added. “She is especially at ease in playing pick and roll, capable of both attacking the basket and hitting from outside. She has great physical strength, can attack smaller opponents with her back to the basket. She is also able to play as a guard and defend on taller players without suffering.

“I am sure that this player will also be loved by her new fans.”

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.