Ly commits to Fordham

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Former Viking Aminata Ly graduated from Cleveland State on Saturday. By Thursday, the transferring center had chosen her next collegiate home, as she announced a commitment to Fordham on Instagram.

Ly’s new program went 19-13 overall in 2022-23 and advanced to the second round of the WNIT – the latest in a run of seven straight winning seasons that includes the 2019 Atlantic-10 title – although those details are largely irrelevant now. Over the last couple years, the Rams have been through a Detroit Mercy of a situation that saw former coach Stephanie Gaitley abruptly depart during the summer of 2022 under a cloud of abuse allegations. Fordham was then led by interim coach Candice Green, a former Gaitley assistant, this past season. By the other side of that mess, the Rams had lost just about every significant contributor from their roster.

Incidentally, Gaitley was recently hired by Fairleigh Dickinson after a year of coaching at the high school level, replacing a staff that included former UDM interim coach LaTanya Collins, for anyone interested in closing that loop of coincidence.

New head coach Bridgette Mitchell arrived in the Bronx in April, fresh from CAA Coach of the Year honors after a regular season co-championship at Northeastern, and she will now attempt to rebuild things from the ground up.

Those efforts are off to a good start, as she’s augmented a handful of carryover players with grad transfers Emy Hayford (Pittsburgh), Mandy McGurk (Pennsylvania), and Kailah Harris (Seton Hall). Hayford, a guard from the Netherlands, received consistent minutes in the ACC during her career with the Panthers and will likely take on an even heavier workload in the upcoming campaign.

Ly becomes a fourth grad transfer on what is, for the moment, a nine-player squad, potentially joining senior Maranda Nyborg in an intriguing post rotation. The 6-3 Nyborg played just under ten minutes per game last year, and her 2.2 points are enough to qualify her as the Rams’ top returning scorer.

That’s ahead of the 7.4 minutes and 2.0 points Ly managed, the most recent data point in a career that’s always been defined by glimpses of potential with production that never consistently matched it. The Dakar, Senegal native’s Cleveland State career peaked over the second half of 2020-21, beginning with her role against Youngstown State superstar Mary Dunn and an 11 point, ten rebound, five block effort in CSU’s come-from behind win over the Penguins on February 19, 2021. It continued during the Vikings’ WBI championship with 25 points and 39 rebounds over the tournament’s three games.

However, injury stole 2021-22 from the 6-4 pivot, and by the time Ly returned, her role had diminished substantially. Amele Ngwafang and Jordana Reisma earned the vast majority of the Horizon League champions’ floor time among the post players, and Ly’s 7.4 minutes per game (following 16.4 during 2020-21) mostly were late in blowouts. She was only on the court for 62 seconds of the Vikings’ postseason run, all in the Horizon League semifinal win over Northern Kentucky. Thanks in part to the COVID bonus year, she will have two seasons remaining to reverse her career arc.

With Ly and Deja Williams (who signed with Mercer last month) now committed, Gabriella Smith and Julia Hintz are the two portaled CSU players yet to find a new home.

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