A little over three weeks ago, Beth Cunningham became the next head coach for the Lady Bears. With a change in coaching staff, a change in roster is sure to come.
At the moment, the Lady Bears have seen four players or recruits move on. Two losses were current players, and two were commits that had signed to play at Missouri State beginning next season.
After four years as a Lady Bear, last Wednesday, Franklin announced her entrance to the transfer portal as a graduate player, looking to use her final year of eligibility. On April 20, she announced on Twitter her commitment to the University of Tennessee -- home of former Lady Bears coach Kellie Harper.
🍊🧡 #rockytop pic.twitter.com/AnGkT6WQAR— jas (@jasmine_makai) April 20, 2022
Franklin only played in 11 Lady Bear games this season before suffering a season-ending ACL tear in Mid-December.
Though only playing a short season, Franklin was on track for Missouri Valley Conference honors, averaging 14.9 points per game as well as being a nationally ranked rebounder.
In previous seasons as a Lady Bear, Franklin earned the 2021 MVC Defensive player of the year, First Team all-MVC and MVC all-defensive team. While earning these honors, Franklin helped lead the Lady Bears to multiple NCAA tournament appearances, including two Sweet Sixteen appearances.
Ezeh has had a tough go at her collegiate basketball career. Originally playing at Duke University under Cunningham, she was unable to play her first two seasons due to ACL tears. After transferring to Missouri State, Ezeh was still unavailable for most of the season due to recovery.
Ezeh played her first games as a Lady Bear in early February and was able to put up 12 points in total against Southern Illinois in her debut games. Though Ezeh had only played in 14 games, she was a starter for nine.
In the 14 games Ezeh played, she averaged 3.9 points per game and 4.4 rebounds per game. During the season, former head coach Amaka “Mox” Agugua-Hamilton expressed her pride and happiness to see Ezeh grow and be an essential part of the team.
Pauley would have been an incoming freshman for the Lady Bears but in a recent twitter post, Pauley had decommitted to Missouri State and would be following Mox to Virginia.
Pauley was a big-time high school player, averaging 33 points and 9.6 rebounds at Milan (Missouri) High School. At the end of her high school basketball career, Pauley had scored 3,074 points, the eighth most in Missouri high school history.
This commitment to UVA from Pauley is the first recruit to change schools; only one other player has committed to another school while others have not announced any change.
On April 3, only four days after Cunningham had entered the head coach position, Copeland tweeted that she had denounced her commitment to the Lady Bears and had found a new home with the Wisconsin Badgers.
Copeland was averaging 8.7 points per game and 4.8 assists per game during her time at Olathe North High School. Leading the Eagles to a 23-2 season and a fourth place finish in the 2022 Kansas Girls Basketball State Championships.
During Cunningham’s introductory press conference, she stressed that she understood the importance of recruiting for the Lady Bears. There are currently multiple open scholarship spots for the Lady Bears. The rebuilding process has begun for a legacy team.
Follow Makayla Strickland on Twitter, m_strickland28.
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