Ohio State entered the women’s basketball offseason thinking it would need to replace just one starter, graduating senior forward Shayla Cooper.
On Wednesday, the program learned that number has grown to three. Ohio State announced that freshman forward Tori McCoy and freshman guard Kiara Lewis, both of whom started the latter half of the season, intend to transfer.
“Kiara and Tori are both great student-athletes and I wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said in a statement.
Lewis’ father, Gary, said in a text message to The Dispatch: “(McGuff) has been a great guy, very professional. We just think it’s in our best interest to move in a different direction.”
Neither player could be reached for comment. McCoy, a 6-foot-4 forward out of Champaign, Illinois, was ranked by ESPN’s HoopGurlz as the No. 10 prospect in the class of 2016. Lewis, a 5-8 guard from Whitney Young High School in Chicago, was ranked by ESPN as the class of 2016’s No. 24 overall prospect.
McCoy averaged 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds during her freshman season, appearing in 35 games and starting 10. All but one of her starts came at season’s end, as junior forward Stephanie Mavunga recovered from a foot injury.
McCoy missed much of her junior season at St. Thomas More High School because of a knee injury. She continued to wear a knee brace throughout her freshman year at Ohio State but found her rhythm as the season progressed, shooting 62.9 percent from the floor and averaging nearly 1.7 blocks per game, both team highs.
The forward, who earned Big Ten all-freshman team honors, had arguably her best game in an NCAA Tournament round of 32 victory over Kentucky, in which she finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, scoring six straight points in the fourth quarter to help Ohio State pull away.
Lewis likewise played in all 35 games this season, starting the final 15. She averaged 6.7 points, scoring in double figures 11 times, and just shy of 20 minutes per game. Her absence will likely mean more minutes next year for a pair of rising seniors, Asia Doss and Linnae Harper, both of whom came off the bench in the latter part of the 2016-17 season.
Ohio State does not have a commitment for the class of 2017 in anticipation of losing just one scholarship player in Cooper.
The Buckeyes went 28-7 during the 2016-17 season, reaching the Sweet 16 for the second straight season before losing to Notre Dame.
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