COLLEGE PARK, Md. — For a while there, Mississippi State’s overtime win against UConn in the Final Four was stacking up to be the most shocking surprise to come out of women’s college basketball this season.
Tuesday morning, Destiny Slocum gave that game a run for its money.
Maryland Terrapins head coach Brenda Frese announced Tuesday that Slocum, the WBCA National Freshman of the Year, will be transferring from the Maryland basketball program, as we first reported.
Fellow Terrapins Kiah Gillespie and Jenna Staiti will also be transferring.
The transfers come following the Terrapins’ exit from the NCAA tournament in the Sweet Sixteen.
The Bad News:
With standout seniors Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones also off of next year’s roster, the announcement of Slocum’s absence comes as a heavy blow for Terps fans.
Three of Maryland’s starters will be gone, but Slocum’s transfer leaves a hugely empty void — one that, due to its unexpectedness, may feel bigger than that created by the departing seniors.
Though just a freshman, Slocum started 34 of 35 games for the 32-3 Terps in her debut season, and was praised by teammates and coaches alike.
“Our staff is proud of the commitment we put into Destiny’s development and all the accomplishments she achieved this season,” Frese said after the announcement according to a press release. “I truly enjoyed coaching Destiny and her energy she brought every day.”
The Meridian, Idaho, native scored in double figures for Maryland 15 times this season, averaging 11.5 points per game — third on the team behind only Jones and Walker-Kimbrough. Slocum also led the team with six assists per game.
The numbers don’t lie: Slocum was undoubtedly a leader. But the non-statistical elements of her game — a certain bounce, an unwavering poise in pressure-filled moments, a habit of nailing impossibly long buzzer beaters in a seemingly effortless fashion — may end up being what College Park misses the most.
Gillespie’s transfer should not be overlooked, either. The sophomore averaged just nine minutes but played in 32 games for the Terps this season.
She had the ability, standing at 6-foot-2 and possessing a strong mid-range game, to stretch defenses and knock down jumpers when left alone, and as a rising junior she would have likely been a key piece of the Terps’ offense next season.
The Good News:
These shakeups seem seismic for Maryland basketball right now, and the blunt truth is that they are. But the Terps will return rising senior Kristen Confroy, a Final Four-experienced three-point threat, and Kaila Charles, the second-best freshman scorer this season.
Maryland will also likely look to Eleanna Christinaki, a 6-foot transfer from Florida, who averaged 17.6 points in nine games for the Gators, for offense and leadership in the upcoming season.
Tuesday morning’s announcement created a hurricane of questions that will probably keep swirling until the Terps tip off next season. Until then, Frese and her team will have to figure out the best steps the program can take to get Maryland back to another NCAA tournament.