Former Viking Burch returns home, commits to Youngstown State

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Former Cleveland Stater Faith Burch’s stay in the transfer portal was a brief one, as the forward announced her commitment to Horizon League rival Youngstown State on Saturday afternoon through her Instagram account. The move comes just six days after the grad transfer entered the portal, almost immediately after the conclusion of the Vikings’ 2023-24 season.

The move is a natural homecoming for Burch, a native of nearby Warren who just completed her redshirt sophomore campaign, along with her undergraduate degree – in fact, she led her announcement Instagram post with a looping clip of the iconic ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz with the caption “there’s no place like home.”

She’s joining a Penguins program that is decidedly in a transitional phase. Acting head coach John Nicolais was not retained after YSU was knocked out of the HL tournament by Green Bay to conclude a 14-18 season, bringing an end to a decade of coaching continuity. Former boss John Barnes guided the Guins to a 2021-22 regular season conference championship, but had to step aside this season, leaving Nicolais, his top assistant, temporarily in charge. Cleveland State assistant Melissa Jackson was hired to lead the program on March 14th, a move that undoubtedly facilitated Burch’s transfer.

On the court, the team was disproportionately driven by a group of sixth fifth-year players who are now out of eligibility, while fourth-year forward Lindsey Linard recently announced the conclusion of her basketball career as well. The Guins are expected to return starters Malia Magestro and Haley Thierry, as well as Abby Liber, who registered important minutes after transferring from Saint Louis. However, beyond that, YSU only has a series of underclassmen who saw inconsistent action, a large recruiting class (though one member of that group, Jayda Mosley, recently flipped her commitment to Central Michigan), along with Burch and whatever else Jackson can wrangle out of the portal.

All of that means that Burch, who has a decidedly different skillset than most of YSU’s returning players, will likely have plenty of opportunity to earn the significant playing time that mostly eluded her as a Viking. In 10.8 minutes per game in 2023-24, she averaged 3.6 points and 3.9 rebounds as a member of CSU’s deep post rotation, and occasionally in place of a foul-plagued wing.

If nothing else, the move has the endorsement of future teammates like Magestro and Bella Samz, who have commented on Burch’s Instagram post. Now-former Vikings teammates like Mickayla Perdue, Kali Howard and Brooklynn Fort-Davis have also offered their support, along with past Cleveland State hoopers like Isabelle Gradwell and Amele Ngwafang.

Ngwafang also made an observation about the move on social media, verbalizing what many connected to the conference shared by CSU and YSU are probably thinking:

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