DATE: MAY 16, 2019
Women’s basketball program’s No. 6 all-time leading scorer will not return
TAMPA, MAY 16, 2019 – USF senior wing Kitija Laksa (Riga, Latvia), who earned her degree in May after suffering a season-ending knee injury just three games into what would have been her senior season in 2018-19, has announced she will not return for another season with the USF women’s basketball program.
“I am so grateful to have attended and competed for the University of South Florida,” Laksa said. “Thank you to the teammates, coaches, staff, fans and so many others in and around the university that supported me, cheered on our teams and made being a Bull such a great experience over the last four years. I am thankful for all the people that care for me, have faith in me and have helped me grow. It is never easy to leave people and places you love, but, after a lot of consideration, I have decided it is time to close this chapter and pursue new challenges.”
The record-setting Laksa was recently honored as USF’s Female Student Athlete of the Year for the 2018 calendar year after a memorable 2017-2018 season that saw the then-junior earn WBCA All-America honorable mention and all-conference first team accolades for the second straight season. The Latvian Senior National Team member set the first of two NCAA records on the year by sinking 11 consecutive three-pointers in a 40-point performance against Southern University and etched her name in the NCAA record book again by setting a new season free throw percentage mark of 96.5 percent after going 111-for-115 from the charity stripe.
“I am very proud of what Kitija accomplished during her four years at USF and how she worked and developed not only as an elite player but as a tremendous person, student and now graduate,” USF Head Coach Jose Fernandez said. “I, and I think all of Bulls Nation, thank her for the great contributions she made to our program and in representing our university. I know this was not an easy decision for her and I wish her the very best as she looks toward the next goals and challenges in her life.”
Laksa led the Bulls scoring 21.1 points per game and broke USF’s junior season scoring record with 717 points, a mark that ranks second overall on the Bulls’ all-time season scoring list. She was an Ann Meyers Drysdale Award finalist as one of the top players in the nation and became the second-fastest player in program history to score 1,000 career points. A three-time all-conference selection, Laksa ends her USF career ranked sixth on the career scoring list with 1,764 points after suffering a season-ending injury just three games into the 2018-19 season.
Laksa also shined in the classroom, earning 2018 American Athletic Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“I am proud to have earned my degree and to have been a part this great university,” Laksa said. “USF and the Tampa Bay community will always be in my heart.”
About USF Athletics
USF Athletics sponsors 19 varsity men’s and women’s teams that compete in 11 different sports, 18 at the NCAA Division I level in the American Athletic Conference. The Bulls’ athletic program began in 1965 and is in its 53rd season in 2018-19. Nearly 500 student-athletes train and compete in the athletic district located on the east end of the campus in Tampa, Fla. The Bulls have claimed 18 American Athletic Conference team titles since joining the conference in 2013, and own 119 conference titles overall. Nine USF programs reached national post-season competition in the 2017-18 season and six were ranked in the Top 25 nationally. The Bulls posted a combined annual grade-point average over 3.0 for the third straight year in 2017-18 and have posted a program record eight straight semesters with a combined GPA over 3.0. USF has had more than 250 student-athletes earn their degree in the last three years.
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