It has been a wild few weeks for both the men's and women's basketball squads at Mississippi State University. Between graduates and transfers, it could seem like there has been a mass exodus from the women's program, an argument which could definitely be made.
There are a total of six players leaving the women's basketball program, whether via graduation or the transfer portal. Virginia Beach, Virginia, native and 6-foot-1 junior guard Xaria Wiggins was the first of these and was an expected transfer after battling with injuries and seeing a very limited role in her third season with the Bulldogs. She has yet to announce her landing spot for next season.
The second of these was JaMya Mingo-Young, a key piece of the Bulldogs' defensive efforts. The sophomore and Bogalusa, Louisiana, product averaged 2.1 assists per game and 4.9 points per game during her two-year stint with the Bulldogs and has already announced she will be transferring within the conference to play for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.
The next player to leave the program was redshirt junior Sidney Cooks, another expected departure. She is leaving the program in pursuit of her law degree after graduating from MSU with her political science degree.
She announced her plans and gratitude toward MSU in a tweet.
"As I earn my political science degree from Mississippi State in May, I will be transferring for my final year of eligibility so that I can pursue my dream of going to law school … Mississippi State and this community will always hold a special place in my heart!" Cooks tweeted.
Senior Yemiyah Morris was a similar situation, as she of course participated in senior day activities this year at the end of the MSU season. She came to MSU as a transfer player from Cochise Community College and never started a game for the Bulldogs in her two years, only averaging 8.7 minutes per game. She has also found her landing spot for her final season, joining former Bulldog teammate Jayla Hemmingway and the rest of the Mountaineers of West Virginia University.
Morris leaves the program on apparent good terms, as indicated in a tweet.
"... Forever a Bulldog! Hail State!" she tweeted.
There were, however, some unexpected departures. Former 5-star point guard, All SEC freshman, and McDonald's All American Madison Hayes announced she intends to leave the program and find a new home. This is a major blow to the Bulldog lineup, as Hayes was a massive part in the Bulldogs' limited successes on the defensive side of the floor this year. In fact, it is what earned her a starting role before the end of the season. Her defensive intensity and versatility on that end of the floor will be a major addition to wherever she decides to continue her career.
The final women's player to leave, and arguably the most impactful, is Aliyah Matharu. The sophomore guard totaled almost 450 points in her first two seasons at MSU and was on track to be a huge component for the future of the team. As a 36% three point shooter, she vacates a position the Bulldogs were already sparse in. She has also yet to announce where she will be playing next.
In terms of men's program departures, there are two graduates and one transfer, so far. Senior and journeyman Jalen Johnson has finished his college career with the Bulldogs, after stops at St. Louis University and University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Abdul Ado, the 6-foot-11 senior, has one year of eligibility left due to COVID-19 but is expected to leave the program and pursue life after basketball and graduation.
The lone transfer up to this point is 4-star guard and freshman Deivon Smith. Smith came into the season with high expectations, especially from Head Coach Ben Howland, who was quoted as saying Smith was one of the most talented prospects he has ever seen. Smith played in all 33 games for the Bulldogs this year and offered a significant boost to the pacing of the game, especially later in the season. He has yet to announce his next destination.
With all of these departures, especially on the women's side of things, MSU will have to hit the transfer portal hard, as the women's program has only three incoming freshmen as of right now. Whatever happens, it will surely be an interesting offseason for Bulldog hoops.