SPORTS

Whitney Jennings transferring from Iowa

Women's basketball: Sophomore guard wants to move closer to home

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Whitney Jennings (15) takes a shot in January against Maryland. Jennings has opted to transfer from the program. She has two seasons of eligibility remaining. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Iowa Hawkeyes guard Whitney Jennings (15) takes a shot in January against Maryland. Jennings has opted to transfer from the program. She has two seasons of eligibility remaining. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Saying she wants to conclude her women’s basketball career “at a place closer to home,” Whitney Jennings will transfer from the University of Iowa.

The university sent a release Wednesday morning stating that Jennings, a sophomore guard who started 62 of 67 games in her career with the Hawkeyes, is leaving. So is freshman Tagyn Larson.

A native of Logansport, Ind., Jennings recorded 626 points, 191 assists, 169 rebounds, and 77 steals in two seasons. She was fourth on the team in scoring this season at 9.6 points per game, and added 3.0 assists per contest.

“I want to thank Coach (Lisa) Bluder and Iowa women’s basketball for the tremendous opportunity, but have decided to continue my academic and basketball career at a place closer to home,” Jennings said in the release.

An Iowa sports information official said that Jennings would have no further comment. Jennings has two years of eligibility remaining.

Bluder said Wednesday in a phone interview that she was “not really” blindsided by Jennings’ decision.

“Whitney’s a great kid; Tagyn, too,” Bluder said. “If they want to be closer to home, you can’t do anything about it.”

Both players will be released from their scholarships.

“We’ll want to see a list of schools in which she wants to attend,” Bluder said of Jennings. “We’ll help her with her next step.”

Jennings was named Indiana Miss Basketball by The Indianapolis Star and the Gatorade Indiana Girls Basketball Player of the Year in 2014, and was a member of the 2014 Parade All-America team.

She had the game-tying free throw at the end of regulation against Nebraska in her freshman season (Iowa won in overtime), and also pushed the Western Illinois game to overtime this season with a 3-pointer. The Hawkeyes won that game, too.

As a freshman, Jennings started 31 of 34 games and averaged 9.1 points as Iowa went 26-8 and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

Jennings’ departure leaves a hole in the starting backcourt.

“We have good kids coming in, and we have good kids here,” Bluder said. “There will be good competition for that position.”

Larson is a native of Sioux Falls, S.D. She’ll have three years of eligibility left. She played 10 minutes in five games this season, and did not score.

“I’ve appreciated what the coaches have done for me and the opportunities that have been given to me at Iowa,” Larson said in the release. “I’ve made lifelong friends in my teammates and it’s been an experience I’m going to treasure forever. Looking ahead, I’m excited to start at a new school and have the best years I can there.”

Iowa was 19-14 in a season than ended last week with a first-round WNIT loss to Ball State. With Jennings’ departure, four starters will return for 2016-17 — Ally Disterhoft, Chase Coley, Tania Davis and Megan Gustafson.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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