The Rutgers women’s basketball team is undergoing significant roster transition this offseason. Heralded freshman Diamond Johnson and veteran point guard Zippy Broughton, both former 5-star recruits, have officially found new homes after entering the transfer portal earlier this month, while two-year starter Mael Gilles has reportedly has as well.
Johnson announced on Twitter that she had committed to N.C. State a few days ago and the program officially announced her addition as well.
It’s about to go down !!!! #wolfpack pic.twitter.com/X28GPMaeIY— Diamond Johnson (@_diamond3_) April 9, 2021
The Wolfpack just won the ACC Tournament for a second straight time and were a no. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament where they lost in the Sweet 16 to Indiana. They are one of the top program’s in the country after six consecutive twenty-win campaigns and are expected to return almost all of its top eight scorers from last season’s team that went 22-3.
Johnson started 15 of 19 games as a freshman and averaged 17.6 points while shooting 45.5% from three-point range, as well as 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals per game. She was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team and Second Team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and media after an impressive debut campaign. This is a huge loss for Rutgers and leaves a big void to fill.
Florida announced that Zippy Broughton was joining their program a few days ago as well.
We've got an exciting addition to announce ️— Gators Women’s Basketball (@GatorsWBK) April 9, 2021
Welcome to Gator Nation @ovozippy ‼️
️ https://t.co/q8Evkdw3vP#GoGators pic.twitter.com/TY1jhLIWz5
The Gators were just 12-14 this past season, finishing in 12th place in the SEC and advancing to the second round of the WNIT. Florida last season with a winning record and NCAA Tournament appearance was in 2016.
Broughton missed time this past season with an injury but started 7 of 10 games she played in, averaging 8.2 points, 3.4 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals. Over three seasons, Broughton played in 61 games and started in 12, averaging 4.5 points, 1.5 assists and 1.5 rebounds. She was also a key member of the team off the court, as Broughton served as a Rutgers representative on the Big Ten Conference Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition, as a student-athlete representative on the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Oversight Committee and ex officio member of the inaugural NCAA Women’s Basketball Student-Athlete Engagement Group, as well as a representative on Rutgers’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).
Another key player for Rutgers, Mael Gilles, is also in the transfer portal after graduating but deciding to explore her extra year of eligibility elsewhere. She has started 55 games over the past three seasons and this past year averaged 8.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.2 assists. Gilles has not announced her destination as of yet and could potentially return to Rutgers.
With the transfers of Johnson, Broughton and Gilles, along with the departures of Arella Guirantes and Tekia Mack due to graduation, five of the six players that started this past season are no longer with the program. The roster moving forward is set to return just one player with starting experience in forward Tyia Singleton, who averaged 6.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 18 games this past season. Head coach C. Vivian Stringer will likely lean on her former top ten recruiting class that saw freshman Liz Martino and Sakima Walker average close to 10 minutes per game this past season. The other members of that heralded class, Chyna Cornwell and Erica Lafayette, saw limited action but are in line for bigger roles next season.
With the extra year of eligibility, the NCAA expected to eliminate the one year sit-out rule and players having been in isolation over this past season due to COVID-19, the transfer portal has become very popular this offseason in both men’s and women’s basketball. While roster turnover should be expected, there is no denying that losing Diamond Johnson, who had the best freshman campaign since Rutgers Hall of Famer and legend Cappie Pondexter almost 20 years ago, is a major setback for the program. The loss of Broughton is significant on and off the court as well.
Hall of Fame head coach C. Vivian Stringer, who signed a contract extension this week, will begin to reload the roster now. Rutgers finished in third place in the Big Ten last season and earned a no. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament before a first round loss to BYU, completing the year with a 14-5 record.
We will keep you posted of any roster additions that take place in the coming weeks.