The Tennessee women’s basketball squad will be short one player this season, as it was announced on Friday that sophomore guard Anastasia Hayes has been removed from the team for violation of team rules.
The university released a statement from head coach Holly Warlick in light of the news.
“Anastasia Hayes has been dismissed from the Tennessee women’s basketball team due to violation of team rules,” Warlick said.
Losing Hayes is not an ideal situation for the Lady Vols. Part of last year’s standout freshman class, which ranked first in the nation in recruiting for 2017, she played a big role off of the bench.
Hayes made such an impact that she was awarded the honor of SEC Sixth Woman of the Year, which is given to a player chosen by coaches in the conference that came off of the bench and found success on the court.
Hayes also garnered SEC Freshman of the Week honors on Feb. 6 following victories against Vanderbilt and Texas A&M in which she averaged 13 points and 2.5 steals and assists.
Defense was Hayes’s specialty, and she made her reputation known as a pick-pocket. She finished second on the team behind now departed senior Jaime Nared in steals with 44, averaging just over one per game.
Hayes was also a spark on offense. She placed second on the team in assists behind sophomore Evina Westbrook with 114, and fourth in scoring on the team, averaging 9.3 points per game.
With the loss of Hayes, Tennessee will have to look other places to replace the bench production she will be taking with her. The aforementioned Westbrook, as well as senior Meme Jackson, will likely hold down starting duties at guard.
However, with Hayes gone, those are the only true guards left on the roster that have any playing experience, meaning that the Lady Vols will once again have to rely on freshman to plug some gaps.
Welcoming the number five recruiting class this offseason, Tennessee will have options. This class includes Zarielle Green from Duncanville High School, a five star prospect that rates as the second best guard in the nation, and Jazmine Massengill from Chattanooga, the number six overall point guard in the nation.
Though Tennessee has some promising young talent, the gap left by Hayes, who was often a sparkplug off of the bench, will be hard to replace.