Former USF star Kitija Laksa in transfer portal

The prolific guard recently graduated, and presumably was preparing for a pro career.
Six-foot Latvia native Kitija Laksa exits USF as the program's No. 6 all-time scorer. [Times files]
Six-foot Latvia native Kitija Laksa exits USF as the program's No. 6 all-time scorer. [Times files]
Published May 21, 2019

TAMPA ― When perimeter sensation Kitija Laksa announced last week she was moving on from the Bulls program, most presumed the recent USF graduate would pursue a pro career.

That presumption has been supplanted by astonishment.

The Tampa Bay Times learned that Laksa has entered the NCAA transfer portal, becoming the fourth player from last season’s 19-16 squad to exit since the season ended.

Laksa, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in Game 3 last season, didn’t immediately respond to a text message. Meantime, Bulls coach Jose Fernandez declined comment, so the reasons remain unknown for a departure that now appears more abrupt than amicable.

But if she does land at another school, Laksa ― a senior last season ― still must go through the formality of seeking a hardship waiver from the NCAA.

Wherever she lands, it’s unlikely she’ll encounter an offense as conducive to her skill set as USF’s, a screen-heavy system frequently designed to provide her open looks. Laksa averaged 21.1 points as a junior and 19.2 as a sophomore, draining 434 career 3-pointers.

Offsetting the departure of Laksa (and the other transfers) is the arrival of one of the best recruiting classes of the Fernandez era, not to mention some key veterans returning to health after an injury-besieged winter.

The newcomers include 6-foot juco All-American Bethy Mununga, third nationally in rebounds (13.5 per game) last season; Miami Country Day guard Maria Alvarez, a three-star recruit per ESPN; and 6-foot Czech Republic star Kristyna Brabencova.

RELATED: USF women sign 2 more European-born players

Additionally, 6-2 sophomore Beatriz Jordao returns after an injury-shortened rookie season, and 6-1 junior Silvia Serrat should join the rotation after two injury-marred seasons.

They’ll join six other returners who made at least 19 starts each last season.

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

Bulls departures

The USF women’s basketball players who have transferred since the end of the 2018-19 season

G Makaela Kestner (4.9 minutes per game)

F Janeta Rozentale (7.7 minutes per game)

G Kitija Laksa (Season-ending injury in Game 3)

F Alyssa Rader (6.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg in 30 games)