Thomas Yang | Assistant Visual Editor
Pitt women’s basketball will be short one of its veteran players next season, as junior guard Kyla Nelson announced Thursday she will transfer from the program.
Nelson announced her decision on Twitter around 6 p.m. Thursday night, and said she didn’t think she would ever transfer, but is “excited” to see where her future takes her and to continue to grow with the game of basketball.
I am officially in the transfer portal!
This is really not something I thought I would have to do but I am excited to see where my journey will take me next. I look forward to being in an environment that will continue to support myself on and off the court.
— Kyla Nelson (@kylanelson_) April 2, 2020
“I look forward to being in an environment that will continue to support [me] on and off the court,” she said.
With the decision, Nelson becomes the fifth player from former head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio’s reign to transfer since Lance White became head coach in April of 2018. Her departure means that only one player remains that was recruited and played under McConnell-Serio — junior center Cara Judkins.
Nelson came to Pitt from Woking, England, in the fall of 2017 to play for the Panthers in what would be McConnell-Serio’s last season. Before joining the Panthers, Nelson already had an illustrious international career, becoming captain of the Great Britain Senior team and also leading the U-20 team to a fifth-place finish at the 2016 FIBA U20 Women’s Division B European Championships in Podgorica, Montenegro.
Nelson played in all 30 games her first year as a Panther, starting in nine. She averaged 4.5 points and 19 minutes per game in 2017-18 and had the highest scoring game of her college career with a 14-point outing against rival West Virginia.
She improved to 6.0 points per game in White’s first season as head coach, playing in 30 games including eight as a starter. Nelson progressed as a shooter in her sophomore season with 42 3-pointers made. She made a three in 23 of Pitt’s games and shot 40.4% from beyond the arc, fourth best in the ACC.
Health issues severely hurt Nelson in her junior season, as she was diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor of the appendix, a form of cancer, in September. She underwent surgery in October and, after taking six weeks off for rest, eventually came back to the team for practice.
Nelson returned to the court in mid-December against Miami University on Dec. 17, 2019, but after three more games sat out the rest of the year on the bench to fully recover from her surgery.
In related news, the Panthers took a step toward replacing Nelson with New Mexico transfer guard Jayla Everett, who committed to Pitt Thursday evening. The rising junior averaged 12.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game in 1.5 seasons with the Lobos, earning the Mountain West Freshman of the Year award in 2018-19.