IOWA CITY — It’s no longer unheard of for a women’s college basketball player to leave school early to pursue a professional career.
But it’s still extremely rare.
The way Megan Gustafson is trending these days, it warranted the question at the Iowa Hawkeyes’ press conference Friday afternoon:
Will you be back next year, Megan?
“I’ll be back,” she said, adding she was “100-percent sure” of that. “I definitely want to finish my time here.”
A 6-foot-3 junior post from Port Wing, Wis., Gustafson has blossomed into a legitimate all-American candidate, and could leave as one of the best ever to wear an Iowa jersey.
Gustasfon is averaging 23.8 points and 12.9 rebounds per game this season for the 20th-ranked Hawkeyes (15-4 overall, 3-3 Big Ten), and is shooting at a 68.2-percent clip from the field, 82.9 percent from the free-throw line. In 19 games, she has 18 double-doubles.
She said Friday that she does have pro aspirations after her senior season is complete, whether it’s the WNBA, something overseas, or both.
“Both would be great,” she said. “Overseas would be cool. I love traveling. We’ll see.”
Barring injury, it is likely that Gustafson will leave Iowa in the spring of 2019 atop the career scoring and rebounding charts. She presently ranks 16th in points (1,432), ninth in rebounds (814).
While Gustafson vowed to return, Carly Mohns — a redshirt junior who is on track to graduate in the spring — is likely to leave after this season.
“It’s still up in the air, but right now I don’t believe (I’ll be back),” she said.
Mohns has undergone five surgeries on her left knee. She is a sports management major who would like to get into coaching.
She has started the last two games, the first two starts of her career.
Coach Lisa Bluder said she is approaching this season “as if this is Carly’s senior year, because it very well could be. If she comes to me in May and says she wants to stick around, hey, I wouldn’t argue with her. But I wouldn’t blame her if she wants to hit the road.”
Iowa is at Minnesota (15-5, 4-3) on Sunday.
Former player Christina Buttenham, who left the program last season following her junior year, has enrolled at McMaster University in her hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, and will suit up for that school next season.
A McMaster release said Buttenham will have two years of eligibility remaining.
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