Maryland rising star Shakira Austin enters transfer portal

Unable to compete for a national championship this season when the NCAA tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Maryland women's basketball and its title hopes for the 2020-21 season suffered a blow Friday with sophomore forward Shakira Austin's decision to transfer.

A second-team All-Big Ten selection this season and the fourth-ranked player in her recruiting class, according to ESPN Hoopgurlz, Austin has entered the transfer portal. Maryland confirmed Austin's decision, which came the same week that sophomore reserve center Olivia Owens also announced she would enter the portal and play elsewhere.

"We wish Shakira and Olivia all the best as they look for new opportunities," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said in a statement. "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."

Austin was a key figure for the Terrapins as they shared the Big Ten regular-season title with Northwestern and won the Big Ten tournament, completed before the cessation of play. A 6-foot-5 forward from nearby Fredericksburg, Virginia, Austin averaged 12 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season. Both marks were second-best on the team behind All-American Kaila Charles. Austin also led Maryland with 41 blocks.

With Charles among four seniors this season, Austin was viewed as an important part of the future who could play alongside incoming freshman Angel Reese, the nation's No. 2 recruit. Instead, Maryland must now replace 58 percent of its scoring for next season.

Owens redshirted this season after struggling with mononucleosis.

Maryland has faced several high-profile transfers in recent seasons, with Lexie Brown transferring to Duke following the 2014-15 season and Kiah Gillespie and Destiny Slocum transferring to Florida State and Oregon State, respectively, after the 2016-17 season.

Maryland has nevertheless won at least a share of four of the past five Big Ten regular-season titles.