WBB NOTEBOOK: Laksa to participate in WNBA Draft

Kitija Laksa will be eligible to be drafted in Friday’s WNBA Draft. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/USF ATHLETICS

Former USF wing Kitija Laksa is set to participate in the upcoming WNBA Draft, which will be held remotely due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns this Friday at 7 p.m. (TV: ESPN).

Laksa was one of the greatest Bulls ever, finishing No. 6 in career scoring, No. 2 in field-goal percentage and No. 1 in free-throw percentage in program history. She likely would have finished No. 1 in all three categories had she not gone down with a season-ending knee injury in the third game of her senior season (2018-19).

The unanimous AAC Freshman of the Year in 2016, Laksa’s USF career only got better as time went on. Her sophomore campaign included six 30-point games and 12 games of at least 20 points.

But it was her junior season where she truly shined. She led the NCAA in free-throw percentage (96.5 percent), broke USF’s junior single season scoring record with 717 points (second all-time for any single season regardless of class) and hit an NCAA-record 11 consecutive 3-pointers in a game against Southern on Dec. 15, 2017 on her way to a 40-point night.

She was the only player in Division I her junior season to post two games with 40 or more points, most notably a 41-point effort against No. 13 Ohio State on Feb. 11, 2018.

Laksa was a unanimous selection to the preseason AAC First Team heading into her senior season and an almost slam dunk top-10 pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft, but all that changed after falling awkwardly trying to catch a stretch pass in a blowout win against Bethune-Cookman which caused her to tear her ACL and meniscus.

Laksa declined to enter the WNBA Draft or to play a fifth year at USF after graduating in May 2019 with a degree in psychology, instead opting to play professionally for TTT Riga in her native Latvia.

SBNation’s Swish Appeal has Laksa going No. 20 to the Los Angeles Sparks.

Bulls pick up Wyoming transfer

Coach Jose Fernandez has his first pickup of the offseason in the form of Wyoming transfer Tereza Vitulová, who announced via Twitter on Thursday she was transferring to USF.

A 6-foot-2-inch forward, Vitulová played in all 29 games for Wyoming in her sophomore season, on her way to all-Mountain West honors. The Domasov, Czech Republic, native averaged more than 25 minutes. Her 14.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game were team highs on a team that finished fourth in the conference.

Vitulová currently plays with USF sophomore wing Kristyna Brabencova on the U20 Czech national team.

It’s not known if Vitulová will have to sit out a season due to NCAA transfer rules, as the NCAA has been considering a one-time transfer rule that would no longer require athletes transferring for the first time to sit out a season before competing for their new school. 

Regardless of when it is, Vitulová will be a junior whenever she first plays for USF.

Pehadzic transfers to Vanderbilt

Former USF guard Enna Pehadzic is on her way to the SEC after announcing Saturday she is transferring to Vanderbilt.

A breakout star of the 2018-19 season in the absence of Laksa, Pehadzic posted a team-high 422 points and 986 minutes. Her performance earned her a spot on the All-AAC Second Team, the weekly AAC Honor Roll four times and the AAC All-Tournament Team.

But 2019-20 was not the same, as Pehadzic, expected by many to be the face of the team, spent more time on the bench than the court. She averaged just 4.2 points and 13.2 minutes, starting just nine games, with the last coming Dec. 19.

Pehadzic will be eligible to play for Vanderbilt immediately as a graduate transfer.