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NOTEBOOK: Laksa announces departure from USF

Kitija Laksa waves to the crowd on Senior Night at the Yuengling Center. Laksa announced her departure from the program instead of seeking a medical redshirt Thursday. ORACLE PHOTO/BRIAN HATTAB

USF women’s basketball wing Kitija Laksa announced her departure from the program Thursday.

The now-former Bulls star was eligible for a medical redshirt to play a fifth year at USF after tearing her ACL and meniscus in the third game of the 2018-19 season, but had not yet made a public announcement about her future. Laksa announced via her Instagram on March 31 that she would not be entering this year’s WNBA Draft.

Laksa graduated in the spring with a bachelor’s in psychology.

“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,” Laksa said on Twitter. “I am proud to have earned my degree and to have been a part of this great university. USF and the Tampa Bay community will always be in my heart.”

Coach Jose Fernandez issued a statement supporting Laksa’s decision.

“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,” Fernandez said in the statement. “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 wish her the very best as she looks toward the next goals and challenges in her life.”

Laksa finishes her career sixth in all-time scoring, second in all-time field-goal percentage and first all-time in free-throw percentage.

Johnson signs with Browns

Former USF running back D’Ernest Johnson has a new home, and this time it’s in the NFL.

After playing in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football (AAF) for the Orlando Apollos and becoming that league’s second-leading rusher, Johnson signed with the Cleveland Browns, the team announced Thursday.

Johnson still holds USF’s all-purpose yardage record (4,186) and leads all USF running back with receiving yards (909) and receptions (73).

More on Johnson’s journey that led him to the Apollos — and now the NFL — can be read in a feature on him from February.

Georgia Tech kickoff time announced

USF football now knows one of its start times in 2019.

The Bulls and Georgia Tech will kick off Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium, the teams announced Wednesday.

The game will be broadcast on the all-new ACC Network, which launches this fall as a new linear network from ESPN.

Week 2’s game in Atlanta follows the Bulls’ season opener at Raymond James Stadium against Wisconsin on Aug. 30, which will be a primetime kickoff and broadcast on an ESPN network.