Zahui B. entering WNBA draft

Betsy Helfand

Amanda Zahui B. will be the sixth player to leave the Gophers womenâÄôs basketball team this year. After a redshirt sophomore season in which she became the programâÄôs first Associated Press All-America first team selection, Zahui B. has declared for the WNBA Draft, forgoing her remaining years of eligibility. âÄúWe are extremely proud of Amanda and the opportunities that await her professional career,âÄù head coach Marlene Stollings said in a press release. âÄúIn just a short amount of time, her maturity and skills advanced greatly, culminating in this incredible opportunity.âÄù Before Zahui B. declared to enter the professional draft, Stabresa McDaniel, Tory Jacobs, Jackie Johnson, Rangie Bessard and Grace Coughlin all requested to transfer out of Minnesota. And with the star center moving on, Minnesota will need to fill a major void in its frontcourt heading into next season. Neither Kayla Hirt nor Shae Kelley will return to the lineup, leaving freshman Josie Buckingham as the lone post player on MinnesotaâÄôs roster with game experience. Buckingham tallied just 13 minutes of court time in three games played last season. Zahui B. led the Gophers to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009 this season, averaging 18.8 points and 12.9 rebounds per game. She is the programâÄôs all-time blocks leader and was named the 2014-15 Big Ten Player of the Year by the media after a prolific season. The draft is set for April 16, and Zahui B. is projected to be a very high pick. Zahui B. said in a statement that she has âÄúlearned a lot about making difficult decisions,âÄù starting with her move from her native country, Sweden, to the United States. âÄúThough challenging, that initial decision has proved to be a step in the right direction,âÄù she said in the statement. âÄúI am most grateful for the University of Minnesota and Golden Gopher basketball program and athletic department for believing in me and welcoming me as I sought to make something great of my life and grooming my talents further.âÄù Jack Satzinger contributed to this report.