When freshman point guard Destiny Slocum dribbled out the final seconds of Maryland’s 77-63 season-ending loss to Oregon, it seemed to symbolize a new era for Maryland women’s basketball.
That was the final game for seniors Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. For the next three years, the ball would run through Slocum, and fans at the Xfinity Center would get used to her dazzling moves and Steph Curry-esque three-point shots.
That reality lasted just 10 days, as the team announced Tuesday that Slocum, Kiah Gillespie and Jenna Staiti were transferring from the program.
Gillespie and Staiti both could have been important pieces in the future, but Slocum was the future. She was the rare freshman who didn’t experience growing pains, and made an impact from the beginning of the season. She played with confidence and didn’t shy away from the big moments. She looked like a natural leader, already directing plays while also gaining respect from her veteran teammates.
She was on the fast track to stardom and a place in Maryland women’s basketball history. Not since Kristi Toliver had fans been so excited about a point guard. She set freshman records for assists and three point field goals on her way to winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, something neither Toliver nor Lexie Brown did when the team was still in the ACC.
At the end of the regular season, Slocum watched as Jones and Walker-Kimbrough’s jerseys unraveled in the rafters. If her career continued to progress, Slocum could have been next in line.
In terms of next season, the Terps now have no natural point guards on the roster. Ieshia Small and Sarah Myers both spent limited minutes there, but the team didn’t look as in-sync with Slocum sitting on the bench. She averaged a team-leading 30.2 minutes per game, which shows how much the team depended on her even when Jones and Walker-Kimbrough were so dominant.
There’s still a lot of talent on this roster, but Maryland will need a floor general to bring everything together. Slocum was on her way to nailing this down and becoming a leader on the court. This is the ideal combination for a point guard. Maryland probably doesn’t have anyone who can be a second coach on the floor like Slocum already was.
Her dynamic personality carried off the court as well. Slocum owned press conferences from day one. She always looked confident at the podium, and didn’t shy away from answering any question. When asked after the UConn game about playing beyond her years, she quipped, “My coach is really patient with me.”
With that type of confidence and charisma, the sky was the limit for Slocum, and fans in the DMV were going to have a front-row seat for the next three years. Even her teammates had started to see what Slocum did as the new normal. After she hit that ridiculous three-quarter-court heave against West Virginia, a few Terps said they expect her to make plays like that. Such praise is usually reserved for upperclassmen, not athletes who had been on campus for less than a year.
“That’s a special player,” redshirt junior guard Ieshia Small said of Slocum in the locker room following the West Virginia game. “Everybody look out.”
Less than two weeks ago, the Terps were lucky enough to have Slocum on their side. Now, they’re part of the “everybody.”