April 8, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame women’s basketball junior guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) announced Wednesday evening that she will forego her senior season with the Fighting Irish and place her name under consideration for the 2015 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) Draft.
Loyd is eligible to enter this year’s Draft due to a league provision that allows players to submit their names for consideration in a given draft if the player’s 22nd birthday occurs within the calendar year of the same season (Loyd will turn 22 on Oct. 5). A player must make such a declaration at least 10 days prior to the draft or 24 hours after her last game if she is still playing 10 days prior to the draft (as was the case with Loyd).
Loyd is projected to be among the top three selections in this year’s draft, and if she is chosen that high, it would make Notre Dame the first school in the 19-year history of the WNBA college draft to produce lottery (top-four) picks in four consecutive years (2012-Devereaux Peters to Minnesota; 2013-Skylar Diggins to Tulsa; 2014-Kayla McBride to San Antonio – all with the No. 3 overall selection).
The 2015 WNBA Draft will be held at 7 p.m. (ET) April 16 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The first round of the draft will be televised live to a national cable audience on ESPN2, with the second and third rounds broadcast live on ESPN3. The Seattle Storm hold the No. 1 and No. 3 picks in this year’s draft (the latter selection obtained via a trade with the Connecticut Sun), while the Tulsa Shock will be choosing second.
“I am incredibly grateful for my experience at Notre Dame and the support I have received from Coach (Muffet) McGraw, our staff, my teammates and the entire ND community,” Loyd said in a statement to the Associated Press. “I have grown as a woman and as a basketball player and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of such an inspiring community.”
“We appreciate all that Jewell has done for our program and the University of Notre Dame during her time here,” Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw said. “We understand this was not an easy decision. We wish her nothing but happiness and success at the next level.
“Our focus remains the same as it was moments after Tuesday night’s national championship game ended,” McGraw added. “We plan on building on this year’s success, including our fifth straight Final Four, fourth national championship game appearance in five years and fourth conference title in a row, with an outstanding incoming freshman class ranked among the top three in the nation. The future is so bright for our program and we couldn’t be more excited to get started with our preparations for the 2015-16 season.”
In 2014-15, Loyd became the fifth consensus first-team All-America selection in Fighting Irish women’s basketball history. She garnered first-team All-America honors this season from the Associated Press (unanimous selection), the John R. Wooden Award (she is one of five finalists for this year’s award, presented to the national player of the year Friday in Los Angeles), Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), United States Basketball Writers’ Association (USBWA) and espnW, which also chose her as the espnW National Player of the Year, the first Notre Dame player to earn a national player-of-the-year award since Ruth Riley in 2001.
In addition to being a finalist for the Wooden Award and the Honda Sports Award (whose four finalists were announced earlier this week), Loyd also was in contention for several other national player-of-the-year honors including the AP (finished second in the media voting, five votes behind UConn’s Breanna Stewart), WBCA Wade Trophy, USBWA Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, Naismith Trophy and Dawn Staley Award (the latter given to the nation’s top guard).
Loyd was a two-time All-America selection in her college career, having split first- and second-team honors from numerous outlets as a sophomore in 2013-14. She is one of four players in program history to be a two-time All-American (not including honorable mention citations) while at Notre Dame, joining Riley, Diggins and McBride in that exclusive company.
On Tuesday, Loyd joined Diggins as the second Fighting Irish player to earn multiple nods on the NCAA Women’s Final Four All-Tournament Team, making the squad for the second consecutive season after leading Notre Dame to the NCAA championship game each year (Diggins did likewise in 2011 and 2012), as well as the program’s fourth NCAA title-game berth in five years in 2015.
This season, Loyd was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year by both the league’s Blue Ribbon Panel (media) and its 15 head coaches, along with earning first-team all-league honors for the second consecutive season as she helped Notre Dame to its second ACC regular-season title in as many years of conference membership (and their fourth league title overall, a first in the program’s 38-year history).
Loyd then repeated as the ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player while pacing the Fighting Irish to their second consecutive ACC postseason crown, and third overall, the best conference tournament run for Notre Dame since 1989-92 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League. Loyd was the second Fighting Irish player ever to be a two-time conference tournament MVP (and first in back-to-back seasons), joining Krissi Davis in that elite club–Davis was the MVP of the 1989 and 1991 MCC tournaments, the former being the only other time a Notre Dame sophomore took MVP accolades before Loyd’s 2014 ACC citation.
In 2014-15, Loyd turned in one of the greatest offensive seasons in Notre Dame women’s basketball history, scoring 772 points to come within an eyelash of the school record (776) set by Katryna Gaither in 1996-97. Loyd also tied the single-season program record with 20 20-point games (set by Gaither in 1996-97), while her 19.8 points-per-game scoring average tied for the third-highest mark in school history (Gaither did so in 1995-96).
In addition, Loyd set new school records for 30-point games in one season (four), highlighted by a record-tying 41 points in an overtime win at No. 25 DePaul on Dec. 10. It was one of 11 times in 15 games this season Loyd scored at least 20 points against a ranked opponent, including three 30-point outings (also 34 against No. 5/6 Tennessee on Jan. 19, and 31 against No. 3 UConn on Dec. 6, both at Purcell Pavilion). Against Top 25 teams this year, Loyd averaged 22.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
Overall, Loyd started all 39 games this season, averaging career highs of 19.8 points and 3.0 assists per game, plus 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game with two double-doubles. She also led the ACC with her 20 20-point games this season, while her school-record four 30-point games likewise set the ACC standard this year.
Loyd ranked among the top 15 in the ACC in four statistical categories in 2014-15 — scoring (2nd – also 26th in nation), free-throw percentage (7th – career-best .826), assists (12th) and assist/turnover ratio (12th – 1.20). In conference play, she finished fourth in the ACC in scoring (19.0 ppg.) and free-throw percentage (.829), as well as 10th in assist/turnover ratio (1.16), 11th in assists (3.1 apg.) and 15th in steals (1.6 spg.).
Loyd ranks fifth on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 1,909 points, while her 17.0 career points-per-game average is second-highest in school history behind current Fighting Irish associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham, who averaged 18.6 ppg. from 1993-97. Loyd holds the school record with seven career 30-point games and ranks fifth with 35 career 20-point games, in addition to scoring in double figures 99 times in her 112 career games played, which ranks seventh in school history.
Notre Dame is expected to have as many as 10 monogram recipients returning next season, including four starters, from this year’s squad that posted a 36-3 record (15-1 in the ACC) and became the fourth school in NCAA Division I history to make five consecutive trips to the Women’s Final Four (and seven overall), as well as the third program to make four appearances in the NCAA championship game in a five-year span.
Next season, the Fighting Irish will welcome the nation’s No. 3-recruiting class, a three-player group that features three McDonald’s High School All-America guards — McDonald’s High School All-America Game MVP and 2015 Gatorade New Jersey Player of the Year Marina Mabrey (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan), three-time Wisconsin Player of the Year Arike Ogunbowale (Milwaukee, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) and 2015 Indiana Miss Basketball Ali Patberg (Columbus, Ind./Columbus North).
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women’s basketball Twitter pages (@NDsidMasters or @ndwbb), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.
— Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director