North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said star freshman Diamond DeShields plans to transfer.
In a statement Thursday from the school, Hatchell said she does not know "or understand" why DeShields is leaving. Hatchell, who was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame before the season, didn't coach this year while she focused on treatment for leukemia, which is in remission.
"It breaks my heart that I will not have the opportunity to coach Diamond and help develop her on and off the court," Hatchell said. "I love her and wish her well."
It's unclear when DeShields, the daughter of former major leaguer Delino DeShields, notified Hatchell of her plan to leave or where she plans to go next. The news was first reported by The Herald-Sun of Durham.
Hatchell didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press for comment, while DeShields didn't immediately respond to an email Thursday.
DeShields' departure is a surprise for a program that relied on a young core to win 27 games and reach an NCAA tournament regional final before falling to Stanford. With DeShields back next year, North Carolina would've been a strong contender for the national title.
DeShields, a 6-foot-1 guard from Norcross, Ga., led the team with an 18-point average. He was selected Atlantic Coast Conference freshman of the year after finishing with a league single-season freshman record 648 points. She was also chosen national freshman of the year by three outlet because of her all-around game, which included the ability to drive, shoot the 3-pointer and play tough defense.
DeShields played her best ball late in the season. That included a week when she had 30 points in UNC's first win at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium in February and a school freshman-record 38 points — 27 after halftime — in a win at North Carolina State.
DeShields was the top player in a heralded recruiting class featuring four top-25 recruits in Allisha Gray, Stephanie Mavunga and Jessica Washington. Gray averaged nearly 14 points as a complementary scorer to DeShields, while rising junior Xylina McDaniel (11.3 points, 5.8 rebounds) was also returning for a team that had no seniors.
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