UNC women among portal winners, Duke, N.C. State among losers, according to The Athletic

By R.L. Bynum

North Carolina is one of the seven winners in the women’s basketball transfer portal this offseason, according to an analysis by The Athletic.

Joining the Tar Heels on the list of winners are reigning national champion LSU, UCLA, Ohio State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and Texas A&M.

In the story, Chantel Jennings wrote about Carolina:

Added: Lexi Donarski (Iowa State), Indya Nivar (Stanford), Maria Gakdeng (Boston College)

Kennedy Todd-Williams, who departed the Tar Heels for Ole Miss, was one of the more surprising transfer entrants, but coach Courtney Banghart reloaded with three impressive additions for UNC. Donarski, a former Big 12 defensive player of the year, and Nivar, a North Carolina native whose skill set went underutilized at Stanford last season, will bring depth to the perimeter on both ends of the floor following Todd-Williams’ departure and Eva Hodgson’s graduation. At 6-3, Gakdeng should help on the glass, especially offensively. Banghart already had a more than solid base with Deja Kelly, Alyssa Ustby and Kayla McPherson, but to add these three transfers as well as three top-100 recruits — including No. 4 Ciera Toomey (6-3) — gets UNC into the top-10 conversation.

Read about UNC’s scholarship freshmen

Five-star forward Ciera Toomey
— Big-time UNC recruit Toomey’s love for Carolina, the state stoked years ago during Pinehurst golf trip
— Five-star UNC recruit Toomey leads team to state title 10 months after ACL surgery
Four-star point guard Reniya Kelly
— Dynamic UNC guard recruit Reniya Kelly won first of four state titles at age 12; at 7, ‘Broadway’ wanted to be great
Four-star forward Rylee Grays
— Funny off court, intense on court, 4-star Grays will give UNC versatile skills for 6–3 player
Indiana Miss Basketball wing Laila Hull
— Hull, a sharpshooting, versatile wing, has expanded, refined her game after talent was evident at an early age

ESPN ranked Donarski as the No. 3 player in the portal and Gakdeng as the No. 15 player.

The Hokies, after last season’s Final Four run, added Rose Micheaux from Minnesota, Matilda Ekh from Michigan State and Olivia Summiel of Wake Forest.

Duke and N.C. State are among the five losers, along with Stanford (which lost Nivar to UNC), Oregon and Arizona.

The Blue Devils lost Celeste Taylor to Ohio State, Shayeann Day-Wilson to Miami and Jordyn Oliver to Vanderbilt. The Wolfpack lost Camille Hobby to Illinois, Jakia Brown-Turner to Maryland and Diamond Johnson, who hasn’t committed to another school.

UNC roster

Here is Carolina’s projected roster with their class for next season listed.

YearReturning playersPos.Height
RS Soph.Kayla McPhersonPG5–8
SeniorDeja KellyPG5–8
Soph.Paulina ParisPG5–9
SeniorAlyssa UstbyF6–1
SeniorAnya PooleF6–2
RS Soph.Teonni KeyF6–4
SeniorAlexandra ZelayaF6–4
Incoming transfers
SophomoreIndya Nivar (Stanford)G5–10
SeniorLexi Donarski (Iowa State)G6–0
JuniorMaria Gakdeng (Boston College)C6–3
ESPN rankIncoming freshmenPos.Height
30thReniya Kelly (4 star; Alabama POY)PG5–7
Laila Hull (Indiana POY)W6–1
90thRylee Grays (4 star Alabama POY)F6–3
4thCiera Toomey (5 star)F6–4
Sydney Barker (walk-on)PG5–7
Class of 2024
26thBlanca Thomas (5 star)C6–5
65thJordan ZubichG5–11
Class of 2025
20thLanie Grant (5 star)G5–9
College careers overPos.Height
Eva HodgsonPG5–10
Ariel YoungW6–1
Malu TshitengeF6–3
Outgoing transfers
Kennedy Todd-Williams (Ole Miss)W6–0
Destiny Adams (Rutgers)F6–3

Photo of Lexi Donarski via @CycloneWBB


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