Continuing a concerning trend for both Maryland’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, another player has decided to transfer from Brenda Frese’s roster.
This time it’s redshirt junior guard Kiara Leslie, who is transferring to North Carolina State after graduating from Maryland this summer.
Leslie missed all of the 2016-17 season with an ankle injury that earned her a medical redshirt, but she did appear for the Terps in her first two seasons. The 6-foot guard averaged 4.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in 67 games for Maryland over two seasons, while shooting 40.7 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from 3-point range during that span.
“In my time at Maryland, I experienced an array of things that I am thankful for,” Leslie said in the team’s press release Wednesday. “I was fortunate to be a part of a winning culture where I experienced winning multiple championships, traveling abroad, and going to the Final Four. Those are things I will remember forever.”
As a graduate transfer, Leslie will immediately be eligible for the 2017-18 season at NC State, and because of her redshirt season this year, she will have two seasons of eligibility left.
It will be a return home for the Holly Springs, North Carolina, native, as the NC State campus in Raleigh sits less than 15 miles from her hometown. Leslie also has a family connection to school in her older brother C.J. Leslie, who played for the Wolfpack men’s team from 2010 to 2013 and averaged 13.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.
Kiara now has a chance to put up numbers that would match her brother’s in her two seasons at NC State. Leslie was ranked the No. 55 overall recruit in the class of 2014 by ESPNW, but coming off the ankle injury, her playing time could have yet again been limited with the Terps this upcoming season.
Frese, however, would have most likely used Leslie off the bench this season with only 11 players on the roster. Maryland has already lost three transfers this offseason in guard Destiny Slocum (Oregon State), forward Kiah Gillespie (Florida State) and center Jenna Staiti (Georgia). Without Leslie, Maryland’s roster is down to 10 players.
At NC State, Leslie will join a Wolfpack team coming off a 23-9 season in which it earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round. She will compete for a starting spot with sophomore guards Kaila Ealy, Lucky Rudd and Grace Hunter. Ealy and Rudd each averaged less than three points per game last season while Hunter, a transfer from UNC-Charlotte, averaged 17.2 points and 8.6 rebounds for the 49ers.
For the Terps, this could put more of a load on the shoulders of incoming freshman guard Channise Lewis, who is the only member of the Class of 2017 joining the team this season. Lewis was originally committed to Illinois before flipping her commitment after the Illini made a coaching change and the Terps lost Slocum.
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