By R.L. Bynum
Half of North Carolina’s No. 2-ranked freshman class will miss the entire season.
Teonni Key (far left in photo) suffered a season-ending right knee ACL tear before the season. Thursday the school announced that point guard Kayla McPherson (second from the left) will redshirt this season.
McPherson, who put on a show in the 3-point shooting contest during Late Night in October at the Smith Center, tore the ACL in her right knee during her senior season at Madison County High School in Hull, Ga., but she and Coach Courtney Banghart were hopeful she’d be able to play this season.
The Tar Heels are riding high at 9–0, ranked No. 25 by AP and No. 20 in the coaches poll, but this is another frustrating blow for the team.
“We’re obviously heartbroken not to have Kayla on the court this season, but our highest priority is to ensure that she’s fully healthy before she’s cleared,” Banghart said. “Kayla is a special talent with a long career in front of her, which we want to include four full years with us in the Carolina blue.
“I can’t say enough about how Kayla has handled the grueling rehabilitation process,” Banghart said. “She’s proven to be a tireless worker and an outstanding teammate and she is getting better and better every day. Tar Heel fans are going to learn soon that she’s worth waiting for.”
Long after the fans had left Carmichael Arena on Sunday after UNC’s 107–46 romp over UNC Asheville, she was out on the court putting up shots along with sophomore center Alexandra Zelaya.
Carolina is in good shape at point guard this season, though, with graduate Carlie Littlefield averaging 10.3 points and 3.4 assists as the starter and Eva Hodgson backing her up, averaging 10.4 points and 2.2 assists. Sophomore Deja Kelly, UNC’s leading scorer at 16.7 points per game while averaging 2.3 assists, also is a force in the backcourt.
Key was ranked No. 9 in the class by ESPNW, with McPherson at No. 17, guard Morasha Wiggins (second from the right in photo) No. 19 and wing Destiny Adams (far right) No. 20.
In 86 minutes over seven games, Wiggins has 20 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and five steals. In 65 minutes over eight games, Adams had 28 points, 17 rebounds and seven steals.
McPherson, a 5-7 guard, was named to the McDonald’s Girls All-American Team and the Jordan Brand Classic Girls National team. She led the nation in scoring at 36.3 per game during her junior season when she scored 63 points in a game.
McPherson was the Georgia Player of the Year her sophomore and junior seasons.
The 9–0 Tar Heels open ACC play at Boston College Sunday at 2 p.m. (ESPN3).
UNC season statistics
day, time, TV
|9||92–47 win, 1–0||Home||N.C. A&T|
|14||89–33 win, 2–0||Road||Charlotte|
|17||89–44 win, 3–0||Home||Appalachian State|
|21||79–46 win, 4–0||Road||TCU|
|26||72–59 win, 5–0||Bimini, Bahamas||X — VCU|
|27||58–37 win, 6–0||Bimini, Bahamas||X — Washington|
|1||82–76 win, 7–0||Road||Y — Minnesota|
|5||93–47 win, 8–0||Home||James Madison|
|12||107–46 win, 9–0||Home||UNC Asheville|
|19||Sunday, 2, ACCNX||Road||Boston College|
|21||Tuesday, 1, ACCNX||Home||Alabama State|
|30||Thursday, 4, ACCNX||Home||Syracuse|
|2||Sunday, 6, ACCN||Home||Clemson|
|6||Thursday, 8, ACCN||Road||No. 2 N.C. State|
|9||Sunday, 6, ACCN||Home||No. 24 Virginia Tech|
|16||Sunday, 1, RSN||Road||No. 21 Notre Dame|
|20||Thursday, 6, ACCNX||Home||Virginia|
|23||Sunday, noon, ACCN||Road||No. 18 Georgia Tech|
|27||Thursday, 7, ACCNX||Road||No. 15 Duke|
|30||Sunday, TBA, ESPN or ACCN||Home||No. 2 N.C. State|
|3||Thursday, 8, RSN||Road||Wake Forest|
|6||Sunday, noon, ACCN||Home||Miami|
|10||Thursday, 6, ACCNX||Home||Pittsburgh|
|13||Sunday, 1, ACCNX||Road||Virginia Tech|
|17||Thursday, 6, RSN||Home||No. 6 Louisville|
|20||Sunday, noon, RSN||Road||Florida State|
|24||Thursday, 7, ACCNX||Road||Virginia|
|27||Sunday, TBA, ESPN2 or ACCN||Home||No. 15 Duke|
X —Goombay Splash; Y — Big Ten/ACC Challenge
Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications