Shakira Austin’s career at the University of Maryland started with much promise.
But the former Colonial Forge and James Monroe basketball star has decided to depart College Park after two seasons with the Terrapins’ women’s hoops program.
Maryland went 57–9 in Austin’s brief run, including 28–5 this past season.
The 6-foot-5 forward averaged 12 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 2019–20 while collecting 57 steals and 41 blocked shots.
She was named second-team all-Big Ten and the Terrapins captured conference regular season and tournament titles.
Austin concludes her career at Maryland with 542 rebounds, 98 steals and 130 blocks.
Her father, David Austin, said on Friday he didn’t see the transfer decision coming.
She’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
However, she’ll have to sit out one season if she moves on to another Division I program unless she’s granted a waiver by the NCAA.
“I think Kira is just looking to expand her game,” David Austin said. “I just think what Coach [Brenda Frese] was trying to do with her, they just weren’t on the same page. Even though there was a lot of success for the program, sometimes those young talented players want more. I guess a change of scenery gives them a chance to get that done. It’s nothing bad to say about Coach Frese. They just didn’t see eye-to-eye on a couple of things that Kira felt more comfortable doing on the court.”
Austin wasn’t available for comment. She played one season at JM and two at Colonial Forge before she finished her career at Riverdale Baptist, a private school in Upper Marlboro, Md.
She possesses uncommon agility for her size and was hoping to explore her outside game more, her father said.
Frese played Austin more as a true center.
Austin isn’t the only Terrapin to announce a transfer this week.
Sophomore center Olivia Owens, who redshirted this past season, also declared her intentions to leave.
“We wish Shakira and Olivia all the best as they look for new opportunities,” Frese said in a statement to the Washington Post. “We are grateful for their hard work and their time here with our Maryland family. They contributed to championships here at Maryland, and those memories will last a lifetime.”
There were signs Austin was seeking a role less constrained to the paint—where players her size typically roam.
Austin has stated in the past that she was hoping to diversify her game. She said this past summer that despite her size, her goal entering her sophomore season was to showcase a variety of skills, including an outside shot.
“A lot of people and a lot of coaches just see height and so that’s where they put me,” Austin told The Free Lance–Star last June. “This year [2019–20], as long as I’m in the gym this summer and as long as I’m able to show that I’m consistent, then there’s nothing nobody will be able to say. I’ll be able to expand my game.”
Austin had plenty of success inside. Her blocked shots total as a freshman (89) set a single-season school record.
She was named to the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year watch list her freshman season. She received Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors on five occasions.
The memorable campaign was capped by all-conference defensive team and freshman team recognition. League coaches named her honorable mention all-conference overall.
Her father said he’s “pretty sure” her usage in the paint two straight seasons factored into the decision to transfer.
“As a young player you feel invincible,” David Austin said. “She had just left Colonial Forge and they won the state and then went on to Riverdale, really put her name on the map and felt really dominant as a player. You kind of come into that first year and it’s an adjustment. You try to make that adjustment the best you can, but those young stars want to see [coaches] kind of take those handcuffs off them a little bit. I guess some coaches are better at getting them to settle down. Sometimes it just doesn’t work.”
David Austin said his daughter will likely cast a wide net when searching for her next school.
He said she may listen to any school that’s interested. She was named a McDonald’s All-American out of high school, a five-star prospect by ESPN.com and the No. 4 overall prospect in her class.
“I support Kira in whatever she’s looking to do,” David Austin said. “It’s her basketball career and her education that she’s pursuing.”