DeNesha Stallworth has requested, and been granted, a release from her scholarship and will transfer away from Cal, according to an ESPN report. After a disappointing and inconsistent season this is an awful way to begin the long off-season. The article doesn't give any particular indication of why she decided to leave, other than the usual 'wasn't a good fit' explanation.
Stallworth has been Cal’s best inside scoring threat for two season, and her stellar freshman campaign seemed to indicate that she was set for a long and productive four years in Berkeley. She was Cal’s 2nd leading scorer and rebounder, and surged in the WNIT, scoring more than 20 points in three of Cal’s final four games. At the end of the season she was named to the Pac-10 all freshman team and was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 performer.
So naturally, expectations were raised and Stallworth entered the 2010-11 season as Cal’s go-to scorer. Viewed in that light it’s hard to see her sophomore campaign as anything more than a mild disappointment. Stallworth only scored .4 more points per game and the exact same number of rebounds per game as her freshman year despite playing more minutes and taking more shots. Her shooting percentages declined in every category and she looked less comfortable as defenses focused on her as Cal’s number one offensive threat. Still, I wouldn't say that her problems were caused by a lack of effort or the wrong attitude.
I can’t begin to speculate if Stallworth’s unhappiness at Cal led to decreased production. if decreased production led to her unhappiness at Cal, or if everything that happened on the court was entirely incidental to her decision. In any case, her decision to transfer isn’t a huge shock. Joanne Boyle has made enough post-game comments indicating how difficult it had been to motivate her team this year that you would have to think that somebody was unhappy.
Her decision to transfer will leave Cal with a thin frontcourt for the third straight season, and there will be increased pressure on each of three Bear bigs. Talia Caldwell will be the only returning forward who played last year. Cal will be counting heavily on good health from Gennifer Brandon and heavy minutes for freshman Reshanda Gray.
The other concern with this transfer is that it’s becoming too common for players to leave this program. Jené Morris, Jessica Lawson, Casey Morris, Kelsey Adrian, Angelei Aguirre, Brenna Heater, and now Stallworth . . . it’s not unusual for players recruited by an old coach to transfer under a new coach, and I don’t want to hold a player quitting basketball entirely against a coach, but at a certain point the numbers start to seem significant. For the sake of depth and future success we all need to cross our fingers and hope that this is the last departure of the year.