On Thursday afternoon, Marquette announced that freshmen Kenisha Bell, Tia Elbert, and Hannah Grim have been granted releases from the women's basketball program and will be transferring following the end of the spring semester. The move was first reported by @BreakdownGBB, a Twitter account tied to a website that tracks Minnesota girls basketball, and all three women are Minnesota natives.
Bell and Elbert were named to the Big East's All-Freshman team at the conclusion of the regular season, with Bell being a unanimous selection to the seven player squad. Bell finished second on the team in scoring, just half a point per game behind Arlesia Morse. Elbert was the third leading scorer on the team, as well as MU's assists leader at 3.0 per contest. Grim appeared in 30 of Marquette's 31 games in 2014-15, but only averaged two points in 10 minutes per game.
At face value, this seems like a massive blow to head coach Carolyn Kieger, who just finished up her first season at Marquette. However, all three women were signed to national letters of intent to play for Terri Mitchell, Kieger's predecessor, so this can be looked at as merely an aftershock of the MU athletic department deciding that what Mitchell was accomplishing was no longer good enough for the university.
While this may just be an aftershock from Mitchell's departure, it does leave Kieger in a major hole for the 2015-16 season. After finishing 2014-15 with a record of 5-5 in their final 10 games, Marquette loses their top six scorers from this season, their top 4 rebounders, and all but 12 starts of the possible 155 starting spots in 31 games. Here's what next year's roster is going to look like, combining the players that are returning and the players that signed during November's signing period:
|Lauren Tibbs||McKayla Yentz||Shantelle Valentine||Allazia Blockton|
|Chelsey Gibson||Erika Davenport|
Nine players, six newcomers, five freshmen. It's not an optimal experience, especially when the NCAA allows you to have fifteen scholarship players in women's basketball. The good news is that Blockton, Davenport, Heideman, and Wilborn are all ranked in ProspectsNation.com's top 150 for the class of 2015. The bad news is that by default, one of them will be required to start.
The spring signing period starts on April 15th, but I can't possibly see Kieger and her staff looking at bringing in any more high school recruits.