San Francisco Chronicle

Curry’s transfer strikes blow to program

- By Marisa Ingemi

Jayda Curry’s days at Cal are over, and the Bears’ hopes of competing soon in the Pac-12 have become more tenuous.

A Cal spokespers­on confirmed Wednesday that the Pac-12’s leading scorer in 202122 entered the transfer portal the day it opened, leaving the Bears to plan for a future without their top offensive player.

The 5-foot-6 sophomore guard was the Pac-12’s Freshman of the Year in 2021-22 after averaging 18.6 points per game. She averaged 15.5 points per game as a sophomore and accounted for more than 22 percent of Cal’s total offense.

The Bears finished 13-17 with just four conference wins; their best victory came Feb. 19 at home over No. 25 USC, now an NCAA Tournament team. Cal hoped the addition of transfers Peanut Tuitele and Kemery Martin would take the load off Curry. She averaged 32.9 minutes per game, down from 34.5 as a freshman.

In October, Curry told The Chronicle, “One of my reasons for coming here, I wanted to help this team get back to where it was before. We were a Final Four team before, so I think that we can win championsh­ips, win a lot more games and just be a better team overall.”

Curry’s departure deepens the program’s roster attrition over the past year. Before the season, three players transferre­d: Dalayah Daniels to Washington, Fatou Samb to Rice and Cailyn Crocker to Colorado State. Last month, Jazlen Green announced her retirement, and Jaydn Bush left the team for personal reasons.

Daniels and Samb had been part of the Bears’ seventhran­ked 2020 recruiting class, but that touted group had only one player log significan­t minutes last season in reserve Michelle Onyiah, who might have played herself into a future starting role with her late-season performanc­e. Sela Heide and Alma Elsnitz barely saw the court.

With the graduation of Tui

tele and center Evelien Lutje Schipholt, the Bears have just two returning starters in Martin and Leilani McIntosh, a shooting guard returning for her fifth season. Incoming Australian freshman Lulu Laditan-Twidale could replace Curry in the starting backcourt, a difficult act to follow.

According to The Athletic, 315 women’s basketball players have entered the portal since it opened Tuesday. Just 30 averaged more than 10 points per game this season, a group that includes Curry.

Curry’s other finalists out of high school were Arizona State, Utah, Washington and San Diego State. Of last year’s top 30 transfers, just four went to teams that didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. Curry’s sister, Layla, plays at Loyola Marymount, but Jayda almost certainly will transfer to a Power 5 program where she has a chance to win.

The Bears have struggled to compete over the past four seasons since Charmin Smith replaced Lindsay Gottlieb, who is now the head coach at USC. Cal has won just nine conference games in that time.

 ?? Don Feria/Contributo­r ?? Jayda Curry leaves Cal after averaging 18.6 and 15.5 points in her two seasons with the Golden Bears.
Don Feria/Contributo­r Jayda Curry leaves Cal after averaging 18.6 and 15.5 points in her two seasons with the Golden Bears.

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