Women’s basketball program in turmoil: Players departing from program raises questions of the future


Quentin Blais

DePaul women’s basketball lost three starters to the transfer portal and six players overall from last year’s team.

The total is now up to six players that have announced their transfers from DePaul women’s basketball program. Following sophomore Aneesah Morrow and junior Darrione Rogers’ decision to enter the transfer portal, freshmen Tara Daye and Zaria Hurston decided to move closer to home in the east coast, also leaving the program.

Freshman Madison Wardell and junior Kendall Holmes round out the list of players departing from DePaul, but have yet to announce where they will be playing next season. 

From Decatur, Georgia, Hurston appeared in 25 games for head coach Doug Bruno giving valuable defensive minutes but was never able to consistently see those minutes increase throughout the season. 

She announced on Monday, April 10, through her Instagram that she had committed to play for Coastal Carolina University, in Conway, South Carolina for the upcoming 2023-24 season.                                                                                                                                      

As for Daye, the New Jersey native also elected to head out east and play for head coach Joe Tartamella and the Red Storm of St. John’s. 

Daye, similar to Hurston, appeared in 27 games this past season but was involved in a bigger role. With the injuries throughout the season, Daye at times took on the point guard role, using her ability to create from others and take care of the basketball. 

Daye had a career-high in assists with 12 in her debut in the starting lineup on Feb. 4 against Xavier. 

“Three of the six transfers are freshmen that we weren’t sure they’re able to earn a lot of playing time,” Bruno said. “That conversation really started immediately after the season was over, and [with our] players you have to be very upfront and I don’t know if they were going to play much this upcoming season.” 

Former DePaul player Hannah Purcell who last played for DePaul in 2021-22 for three seasons, said she wanted to see the floor more often. 

“I transferred because I wanted more playing time,” Purcell said. “No other reason. While that’s clearly not their reason for transferring, that was my reasoning.” 

Team manager, Jonathan Keeton who spent time on and off the court with the team says transferring is sometimes the best move for a player.

“It’s just players feeling like they need a new beginning, and I think that’s the biggest part,” Keeton said. “It’s not just basketball, in general, sometimes people have been at a place for so long that they want to see themselves in a new environment to see how that goes, and build a new chapter for themselves.” 

In an article written by Charlie Creme of ESPN, and another from the Athletic written by Chantel Jennings, they ranked the current players in the transfer portal. Morrow was listed second behind former Louisville player Hailey Van Lith. 

Rogers was also listed in the Athletic. Rogers was ranked the 10th best available player according to ESPN. They had her as the No. 19 best available transfer. 

First reported by Alexa Phulippouo from ESPN, a number of teams reached out to Morrow since announcing her decision to transfer.

Morrow has heard from over 33 different schools in a little over a week in their attempts to recruit the sophomore, who has two years of eligibility still remaining. 

Some of the teams who have reached out to Morrow include South Carolina, Iowa, Notre Dame, USC, LSU and Ole Miss. The list of power five schools continue in their efforts to land Morrow. 

The bigger problem with DePaul basketball could be the effect of the minimal amount of NIL opportunities. 

Bruno said one of the two players between Morrow and Rogers told him that they felt there was a better opportunity to receive NIL money elsewhere, and that they played and deserved more than what DePaul had to give.

All 350 NCAA Division I schools have a system called collections where donors donate to fundraisers and boosters to raise money to pay athletes for a given school. 

Players like Caitlin Clark from Iowa and Paige Bueckers from UConn, the bigger named players do not acquire the collective money, because they already make so much on their own with different companies in separate deals. 

Bruno said those collectives could also be used to build new facilities around campus for the university, as well as for DePaul athletics, because DePaul always needs new facilities. 

“I really think that if our players stay patient, they’re really going to get a better chance to create NIL money in the third largest media market in the country. 

Bruno also praised athletic director Dwayne Peevy and his staff for continuously coming up with more opportunities for NIL, like the “Under the L” fundraiser that is going to take place. 

With six players from last season remaining, Bruno expects to sign three more but has six available slots to fill with a transfer or new recruit.

Seniors Anaya Peoples and Jorie Allen currently headline and will look to lead the new group for the upcoming season. 

Freshmen Maeve McErlane and Haley Walker have so far decided to return. Last year’s transfer Jade Edwards also returns looking to get a full season once healthy. She only appeared in two games. 

The Blue Demons made Michigan guard Michelle Sidor transfer to the program officially. As well as Nazareth High School senior Grace Carstensen commitment official as well. 

“Would we like those three athletes to come back, absolutely,” Bruno said. “At the same time, I have all the faith in the world that we will be able to resurrect this program. We won before this group of athletes, and we will win after this group of athletes.”