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ND Women’s Basketball

Jewell Loyd to enter WNBA Draft

| Thursday, April 9, 2015

Junior guard Jewell Loyd will skip her senior season to leave early for the WNBA Draft, Notre Dame announced Wednesday.

The announcement comes after a career year for Loyd, who earned the espnW Player of the Year and ACC Player of the Year awards and was a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, WBCA Wade Trophy and AP Player of the Year. She is also a finalist for the Wooden Award, which will be given Friday, and was named an AP All-American for the second consecutive season.

Junior guard Jewell Loyd drives the lane during Notre Dame’s 63-53 loss to Connecticut on Tuesday in the national championship game.Wei Lin | The Observer
Junior guard Jewell Loyd drives the lane during Notre Dame’s 63-53 loss to Connecticut on Tuesday in the national championship game.

Loyd scored 772 points this season for the Irish, only four short of tying the program’s single-season record, en route to leading Notre Dame to its fifth straight Final Four and fourth national championship game appearance in five years. She was 449 points away from breaking former guard Skylar Diggins’ career mark of 2,357. Loyd started all but one game in which she played in an Irish uniform.

The Lincolnwood, Illinois, native averaged 19.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season, numbers that jumped to 24.9 points and 6.5 rebounds against top-25 opponents during the regular season.

“I am incredibly grateful for my experience at Notre Dame and the support I have received from Coach [Muffet] McGraw, our staff, my teammates and the entire ND community,” Loyd said in a statement to The Associated Press. “I have grown as a woman and as a basketball player, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of such an inspiring community.”

Loyd did not respond to The Observer’s request for comment.

In her last game for Notre Dame, a 63-53 loss to Connecticut in Tuesday’s national championship tilt, Loyd recorded 12 points and five rebounds in 38 minutes on the floor. She averaged 16.0 points and 5.2 rebounds during this year’s NCAA tournament and was named to the all-tournament team for the second year in a row.

With Loyd, the Irish looked to return their entire starting lineup from this season, along with 97 percent of their scoring, 89 percent of rebounding and 95 percent of minutes.

“We appreciate all that Jewell has done for our program and the University of Notre Dame during her time here,” McGraw said in a release. “We understand this was not an easy decision. We wish her nothing but happiness and success at the next level.

“Our focus remains the same as it was moments after Tuesday night’s national championship game ended. We plan on building on this year’s success, including our fifth straight Final Four, fourth national championship game appearance in five years and fourth conference title in a row, with an outstanding incoming freshman class ranked among the top three in the nation. The future is so bright for our program, and we couldn’t be more excited to get started with our preparations for the 2015-16 season.”

The junior is eligible to declare for the draft because her 22nd birthday falls in 2015, the same calendar year as the draft, which will be held April 16 in Uncasville, Connecticut. She has until up to five days before the draft to change her mind, which would be until this Saturday.

Minnesota sophomore center Amanda Zahui B. also announced this week that she will leave school early for the draft, the first time two players have done so in the same draft. Most notably, Tennessee’s Candace Parker was selected in the 2008 WNBA Draft after forgoing her senior season.

If she does not change her mind, Loyd will be on track to keep Notre Dame’s four-year streak alive of having a player taken in the top four picks of the draft. Devereaux Peters (2012), Diggins (2013) and Kayla McBride (2014) were all selected third overall in the past three years.

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