UConn’s Azura Stevens skipping final year to enter WNBA

STORRS, Conn. (AP) UConn forward Azura Stevens is giving up her last year of eligibility and entering the WNBA draft, the school announced Monday.

The 6-foot-6 junior played just one year at UConn after transferring from Duke, averaging 14.7 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Huskies.

UConn’s season ended Friday night with a loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA semifinals. It was UConn’s only loss in a 36-1 campaign.

”I will miss this program and all that it has been to me,” Stevens said. ”It’s been a lifelong dream for me to play in the WNBA, and I’m excited for this opportunity God has presented me with.”

Stevens was named the American Athletic Conference newcomer and sixth player of the year and the outstanding performer in the conference tournament.

”We wish Azura nothing but the best and we’re going to be there to support her in any way we can,” coach Geno Auriemma said. ”Z and her family have given this a lot of thought and feel this is the right time to pursue this.”

Steven’s departure leaves Napheesa Collier as the only returning post player who saw significant minutes for the Huskies. UConn’s recruiting class includes 6-4 Olivia Nelson-Ododa, a McDonald’s All-American who received national attention last week for competing against male players and making the finals of a national high school dunk contest, the Gatorade Jam Fest.

Stevens joins former Husky Morgan Tuck as the only UConn players to leave school with eligibility remaining.

Under WNBA rules, a player with college eligibility remaining must turn 22 during the calendar year of the draft to leave school early. Stevens celebrated her 22nd birthday on Feb. 1.

The draft takes place April 12 in New York. Stevens is expected to be a high first-round pick.