As promised, Marlene Stollings is quickly restocking her roster. A day after announcing two junior college incoming transfers, the Gophers women's basketball coach officially confirmed that former Bloomington Kennedy star point guard Kenisha Bell will transfer from Marquette and be eligible for the 2016-17 season.
Bell, who tweeted she was coming to the Gophers on Wednesday, will begin practicing with the team this summer but must sit out next season because of NCAA transfer rules. She was a unanimous selection to the Big East all-freshman team and earned the league's freshman of the week award four times.
"Kenisha is a household name in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas," Stollings said in a university statement. "We are ecstatic about her returning home to play at the U. Her style of play epitomizes what we seek in our up-tempo system.
"She has a skill-set that allows her to score in a multitude of ways, and her uncanny ability to find the open player will keep opponents' defenses on alert. Our fans will be in for a treat when she steps on the court in 2016. We are elated to have another high-caliber, in-state student-athlete become a Gopher."
In her one season at Marquette, Bell started 28 games at the point, was the team's second-leading scorer and set a program freshman record by averaging 14.5 points per game. Bell also set school rookie records in total points (434), field goals (157) and free throws (111). She scored in double figures 25 times, including a season-high 25 points against Northern Kentucky.
Bell earned all-state first team accolades and was a Star Tribune All-Metro First Team player after leading the Eagles to a state championship appearance in 2014. She averaged 20.5 points per game in her final season at Kennedy and was ranked as the No. 25 point guard recruit nationally by espnW.
"When I found out about Coach Marlene and her staff getting hired at the U, I looked up their credentials and decided to take a visit," Bell said in a statement. "I had a great time and bonded with the coaches. They know what it takes to win and have the resources to help me get to where I need to be. When it came time to make a decision, I thought about the support system I have in the area, the coaching staff and, of course, the academics and they all fit my standards, as well as those of my parents. I decided that going back to where I first started hooping could be a good fit for me."
Bell and junior college transfers Kynadi Johnson and Karley Barnes help refill a roster that lost six players in recent weeks, including Amanda Zahui B., who left after her sophomore season and was the No. 2 overall pick in the WNBA draft Thursday night.
Zahui's departure left only six returning players on the roster. DeLaSalle graduate Allina Starr transferred into the program last winter and will be eligible to play after the 2015 fall semester. Last fall, the program also signed 6-1 guard Danielle Garven from Canada and junior college point guard Keyondra Jenkins.
Stollings, on the job now for just over a full year, told the Star Tribune earlier this month that she plans to bring in more players who fit the style, system and culture she is implementing. She is looking for players in the mold of Shae Kelley, the versatile, highly skilled forward who transferred into the program last summer for her final college season. Kelley was drafted by the Lynx in the third round..
"We were very supportive of those departures and feel they have ended up at institutions that better fit their skill-set,'' Stollings said of the team's departing players after Zahui declared for the WNBA. "We've been here about a year, and there was quite a bit of change of culture and progression of the program that needed to take place. And we're just in the infancy of that at this point.''