LSU women’s basketball coach Nikki Fargas hasn’t had much to consistently cheer about in the last few years.
An awful 1-4 start this past COVID-19 affected season doomed the Tigers to a 9-13 record, the lowest number of wins for the program in 28 years.
Also, LSU hasn’t won a NCAA game since 2014 after the Tigers made four straight appearances and six in her first seven years under Fargas.
But two NCAA loopholes – the graduate transfer rule and the one-time exception of fall-winter sport athletes being granted an extra year of eligibility because of COVID-19 – are making prospects of a 2022 NCAA tourney appearance bright for Fargas and the Tigers.
Fargas announced Friday that seniors Khayla Pointer, Faustine Aifuwa and Jailin Cherry are returning for a “second” senior season in 2021-2022. In the last three days, LSU has also picked up graduate transfers Ariyah Copeland of Alabama and Autumn Newby of Vanderbilt.
Those five players counterbalance in numbers and in talent the five Tigers from the 2020-21 team – Tiara Young, Awa Trasi, Karli Seay, Treasure Thompson and Sharna Ayres – who said they are transferring.
“We are thrilled that Khayla, Jailin, and Faustine have decided to return and finish what they started,” Fargas said in a released statement. “They bring a wealth of leadership on and off the court. More importantly, they will have already graduated with a degree.
“They are driven to make sure LSU is back on the national scene. With the return of this nucleus, the phenomenal (six-signee) freshman class, and the impactful transfers, LSU will be a major contender for this upcoming season.”
Pointer, a 5-7 point guard, was chosen All-SEC first-team and All-SEC Defensive team by league coaches this past season when she was LSU’s leading scorer averaging 16.9 points. She also topped the Tigers in almost every statistical category and ranked among the top 20 in 11 of the league’s top statistical categories.
Aifuwa, a 6-5 center, averaged 11 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. Like Pointer, she started in all 22 games last season.
Cherry, a 5-8 guard, averaged 3.5 points and 1.8 rebounds primarily off the bench.