First Jessica Washington, then Allisha Gray now it appears Stephanie Mavunga is leaving Chapel Hill for a different school.
The University of North Carolina has granted women’s basketball player Stephanie Mavunga’s release to speak with other schools about the possibility of transferring.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I have asked for, and been granted permission to talk to other teams and explore transfer opportunities,” said Mavunga. “I wish to thank Coach Hatchell, the whole coaching staff and my teammates and fans for their support over the two years I’ve spent in Chapel Hill. I have nothing but great things to say about the program and I am very grateful for the mentorship and development that I received along the way at UNC. They have helped me tremendously!
“From the big things to the little things, they’ve been a part of my greatest support system. I was molded into a player who earned first team All-ACC honors, and was even blessed with the opportunity to represent my country in Canada during the Pan American games this summer. I wish everyone in the program the best of success. I have decided to look at transfer opportunities for personal reasons. As we all know, once a Tar Heel, always a Tar Heel.”
In you are keeping score at home, these three departures coupled with Diamond DeShields' transfer last spring means UNC's vaunted recruiting class of 2013 has walked out the door after just two years. These losses plus the graduation of Brittany Rountree puts UNC in dire straits headed into next season. The trio of transfers and Rountree accounted for four of UNC"s top five scorers in 2014-15. The fifth was Xylina McDaniel who played just 12 games before injuring her leg. Assuming McDaniel returns and barring additional transfers, N'Dea Bryant would be second in games started from last season with 11 and Jamie Cherry next with three.
In short, before the NCAA even hands down what is expected to be stiff penalties for women's basketball, the program is going to suffer mightily thanks to scandal related attrition. Neither Washington or to this point Mavunga have said the looming NCAA penalties were a factor in transferring, Gray apparently did express concerns about that and particularly how she personally would be viewed as a former North Carolina player.
That is a twist on the scandal's impact that really hasn't been discussed before. While no one would blame any of these players for getting out before the sanctions came as to avoid postseason bans and what not, no one has ever stated concern over how others might judge them because they played at North Carolina. Given the details of what happened with women's basketball, this concern may be limited players in that program.
At any rate, UNC women's basketball has entered an anxious twilight period before darkness falls. It is a form of punishment before the punishment. Whatever sanctions the program receives will likely be debilitating. High levels of attrition and a recruiting drought prior to that will on exacerbate the impact of those sanctions. In short, UNC women's basketball is about to take a very difficult and long walk through the wilderness.