International Volleyball

O’Neal goes first in Pro Volleyball Federation draft; LOVB, USAV partner

O'Neal goes first in Pro Volleyball Federation draft; LOVB, USAV partner

Asjia O’Neal hits against Thailand during Volleyball Nations League last summer/Volleyball World photo

The Pro Volleyball Federation (PVF) and League One Volleyball (LOVB) enjoyed a newsworthy Monday, highlighted by a draft, the announcement of involvement by USA Volleyball in the domestic pro game and the disclosure of a new franchise.

O’Neal taken first in PVF draft

Texas All-American middle blocker Asjia O’Neal earned the distinction of being the nascent Pro Volleyball Federation’s first college draft pick, chosen on Monday by the Columbus Fury.

O’Neal, 24, has played in the Longhorns program since 2018, redshirting her freshman year and competing for Coach Jerritt Elliott’s team during the 2019, ‘20, 21, ‘22 and ‘23 seasons. Daughter of six-time NBA All-Star Jermaine O’Neal, Asjia joined the USA women’s national team’s gym in 2023 and performed in Volleyball Nations League last summer.

The Longhorns were NCAA champions in 2022 and return to the national semifinals in Tampa, Florida, with an opportunity to earn back-to-back titles. Considered by many the top college player in the country, the 6-foot-3 O’Neal is Texas’ all-time leader in blocks with 594 and has registered 909 kills with a career hitting percentage of .403.

The inaugural PVF college draft, held in Atlanta, saw 35 players chosen by the league’s seven teams over five rounds, including four stars who will play in the upcoming NCAA final four: O’Neal, middle hitter Chiamaka Nwokolo (by the Atlanta Vibe, first round, sixth overall) and setter Emma Monks (by the Fury, fifth round, 29th overall) of Pittsburgh, and opposite Temi Thomas-Allara (by the San Diego Mojo, second round, 11th overall) of Wisconsin.

Being selected by a PVF team in no way affects a collegian’s eligibility, since players are not required to declare for the draft. Players also are free to sign with overseas teams. All the PVF draft does is bind a player to the team that selects her, if she desires to play in the league. How long a PVF franchise retains its rights to drafted players seems to…

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