Paul Boyd is a sports reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was voted Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2018.
2 Razorbacks to enter WNBA Draft, 2 more to transfer
Arkansas' Chelsea Dungee (33) goes up for a shot during a game against Ole Miss on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021, in Fayetteville.
The University of Arkansas women’s basketball roster continues to change after the Razorbacks’ season ended Monday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
All-American Chelsea Dungee and graduate transfer Destiny Slocum both declared their intentions to enter the WNBA Draft on their respective Twitter accounts Thursday.
In addition, senior Taylah Thomas, a two-year starter, and freshman Destinee McGhee have entered the transfer portal, Razorbacks Coach Mike Neighbors said.
The Razorbacks finished 19-9 after a 66-62 upset loss to Wright State on Monday, playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 2015.
Dungee has been a key part of a four-year rise back to prominence for the Razorbacks.
Dungee finished her Razorback career with 2,147 points, the highest total of any Arkansas women’s basketball player. It won’t be recognized as a program record since she played her freshman season at the University of Oklahoma before transferring to Arkansas.
The 5-11 guard from Sapulpa, Okla., was named third-team All American by The Associated Press last week. She is the first Razorback honored by the AP since Shameka Christon in 2004 — also a third-team selection.
Slocum, a second-team All-SEC selection who started 27 games this season, transferred to Arkansas after playing two seasons at Oregon State and one season at Maryland. She averaged 15 points, 3.3 rebounds and a team-high 3.9 assists per game this season. The 5-7 guard finished her collegiate career with 1,800 points, 611 assists and 384 rebounds.
Neighbors said he was impressed with how Slocum performed in an incredibly difficult situation of the pandemic.
“2020 was the most challenging year of virtually all our lives,” Neighbors said. “Imagine then moving across the country, joining a brand new team with which you can have little face-to-face contact with for the first four months, learn a new system and then face the toughest schedule imaginable. Takes some grit to pull that off.
“We got the best version of her but can’t honestly say she got the best version of us because of all the covid protocols. Didn’t get to see Bud Walton with more than 4,400. Didn’t get to meet our amazing fans at luncheons. Didn’t get to have team functions to really know her teammates. All of that and this kid still performed at the highest level against the best of the best.”
Thomas, a 6-1 forward from Arlington, Texas, started every game this season, averaging 4.2 points and a team-high 6.0 rebounds per game.
She finished her Arkansas career with 705 rebounds, good enough for seventh on the Razorbacks’ all-time list. She also grabbed 21 rebounds against New Orleans in the 2019-20 season opener, one shy of the single-game school record.
Thomas will be remembered for her contributions, which might have been overlooked by some, Neighbors said.
“If you really take a deep dive into it and look at it, if players are judged by the role they are given, the role they accept and the role they execute, she’s an All-American,” Neighbors said. “But that’s not what we choose to celebrate all the time.
“Tim Duncan made that quote famous, ‘Superstar in your role.’ There ought to be a Tim Duncan Award because that’s what Taylah did for us was do your job, screen, defend, run. It’s why she will have a legacy here if she does go and play and finish her career someplace else. She’s always going to be a Razorback.”
McGhee, a 6-2 freshman from Huntsville, Ala., is transferring to Alabama-Birmingham. That move was announced on the UAB women’s basketball Twitter account Thursday morning. She played in just six games this season, averaging 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds.
Seniors Jailyn Mason and Macy Weaver also announced Wednesday they would be graduate transfers. Amber Ramirez, the remaining Arkansas senior, should make a decision on her future soon, Neighbors said.
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