ATLANTA (AP) — Maori Davenport, who drew national attention over an eligibility dispute during her senior year of high school, is transferring to Georgia after playing sparingly in her lone season at Rutgers.
Lady Bulldogs coach Joni Taylor announced Davenport’s decision Wednesday. The 6-foot-4 center from Troy, Alabama will have to sit out a season under NCAA transfer rules before she is eligible to join Georgia in 2021-22. She will have three years of eligibility remaining.
“We are extremely happy to add Maori to our team,” Taylor said in a statement. “When you look at her, the first thing that jumps out is her size and athleticism. She was a highly recruited player coming out of high school who we have known for a really long time. Maori is a terrific young lady, and I can’t wait to welcome her to Athens.”
Davenport was one of the nation’s top prep prospects when her senior season at Charles Henderson High School was thrown into turmoil over an $867.20 stipend check she received from USA Basketball for playing at a youth tournament in Mexico City in the summer of 2018.
The check was not an issue for those players who were already heading to college because the NCAA allows such payments. But USA Basketball failed to check on whether it applied to high school players such as Davenport, who couldn’t accept any money under the amateurism rules of the Alabama High School Athletic Association.
Davenport’s family deposited the check. Then, some three months later, after learning that the payment was against AHSAA rules, they self-reported the violation and repaid the money to USA Basketball.
Even so, the association said any violation of its amateurism rule carried an automatic one-year suspension, which would have ended Davenport’s high school career. Charles Henderson, the defending Class 5A champion, also was ordered to forfeit its first four games.
After her appeal was rejected by two AHSAA panels, Davenport finally went to court to get her eligibility restored. She drew support from around the nation, including ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas.
Despite the disrupted season, Davenport was runner-up for the state’s Miss Basketball award and earned a spot on the Alabama Sports Writers Association first team for the second year in a row.
Davenport failed to make much of an impact at Rutgers. She played in 29 games, averaging 9.9 minutes, 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds.