Gophers women’s basketball adds JUCO transfer for 2020-21

Daja Woodard is the third forward to join the Gophers via transfer this offseason.

Coach Lindsay Whalen watches a play intently at the Gopher womens basketball practice on Monday, Oct. 9, 2018 in the Cunningham Basketball Performance Center.

Tony Saunders

Coach Lindsay Whalen watches a play intently at the Gopher women’s basketball practice on Monday, Oct. 9, 2018 in the Cunningham Basketball Performance Center.

Brendan O'Brien

The Gopher women’s basketball team continues its busy offseason of roster additions, signing Daja Woodard as a junior college transfer.

Woodard will be joining the Gophers after playing two seasons at the NJCAA level, Minnesota announced in a statement released Friday. The forward played her freshman season at Pensacola State College, averaging 14.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Last season, Woodard averaged 9.3 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game at Jones County Junior College in Mississippi.

“Daja brings us an element of athleticism that I think will excite Gopher fans,” head coach Lindsay Whalen said in the statement. “Her versatility to be able to play inside, as well as the perimeter, will add great depth to our post group.”

Adding depth at the forward position has been a point of emphasis for Whalen this offseason, especially after losing leading rebounder Taiye Bello to graduation. Woodard is the third player at the position to transfer to Minnesota this offseason behind graduate transfer Laura Bagwell-Katalinich and Kayla Mershon, who is transferring after two seasons at Nebraska.

As a junior college transfer, Woodard will be eligible to play for the Gophers in the 2020-21 season. Woodard is the second junior college transfer in Whalen’s tenure as head coach, the first being guard Masha Adashchyk.

With the addition of Woodard, the Gophers’ roster includes a mix of new and familiar faces. Three starters — guards Gadiva Hubbard, Sara Scalia and Jasmine Powell — return to the roster. Kadi Sissoko, a transfer from Syracuse, is expected to play a big role as well. She was unable to play at all last year. 

The Gophers will have six players who played basketball elsewhere last season. Besides Woodard, Bagwell-Katalinich and Mershon are three incoming players — Alexia Smith, Caroline Strande and Erin Hedman — are incoming freshmen.