The Syracuse University women’s basketball team announced the signing of Southern California transfer Shalexxus Aaron on Friday morning to cap off a wild week in the NCAA transfer portal.
Aaron will join the Orange after three seasons with the Trojans, starting the process of rebuilding for SU coach Quentin Hillsman after 10 players entered their name into the transfer portal since SU’s season ended with a loss to UConn on March 23 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Junior Emily Engstler was surprisingly the first player to announce intentions to transfer after the season, but has since been reportedly joined by seniors Kiara Lewis, Digna Strautmane, Amaya Finklea-Guity, and redshirt junior, Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi.
Engstler has already committed to join Atlantic Coast Conference foe, Louisville, according to a release posted to the school’s official athletics website Thursday.
“I’m grateful to be given a new opportunity during this time in my life,” Engstler said in the Louisville press release. “I hope for a new beginning that’s filled with hope and much to celebrate.”
Several SU freshmen also reportedly intend to transfer — Maud Huijbens, Taleah Washington, Faith Blackstone, and Khamya McNeal — the latter three were all suspended for the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA Tournaments due to an unspecified violation of team rules.
Senior Lauren Fitzmaurice, who opted out of this past season due to COVID-19 concerns, has also entered her name into the transfer portal.
The Orange has five players remaining from last year’s team, led by returning freshmen starters, Kamilla Cardoso and Priscilla Williams. Freshmen guards Kiara Fisher and Ava Irvin, along with sophomore guard Teisha Hyman, are also expected to be back.
Aaron will look to help offset the departures. She tallied three double-figure scoring outings in 12 appearances this year after missing the first 11 games and all of the 2019-20 seasons due to injury.
The 6-foot-1 guard averaged 6.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game and shot 40 percent from behind the 3-point arc across three seasons at USC.
Hillsman will also look for a boost from the five players comprising the 11th-ranked incoming recruiting class in NCAA Division I, headlined by high school teammates from Toronto — Latasha Lattimore and Shayeann Day-Wilson — who each appear in the top 50 of ESPNW prospect rankings.
Lattimore is a 6-foot-4 forward, while Day-Wilson is considered the top point guard prospect from Canada.