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Report: North Carolina star Deja Kelly to enter NCAA transfer portal

Matt Connollyby:Matt Connolly04/08/24


North Carolina star Deja Kelly is set to enter the NCAA transfer portal, according to a report from Alexa Philippou.

The three-time first-team All-ACC selection could be back with the Tar Heels, according to Philippou, but she is at least going to consider her options.

“BREAKING: North Carolina Tar Heels star Deja Kelly will be entering her name into the transfer portal, a source told ESPN. It is on the table for her to return to UNC, the source said, but she will also explore other schools,” Philippou posted on Twitter.

The 2020 McDonald’s All-American was ranked as a five-star recruit coming out of high school.

Deja Kelly scored more than 3,200 points during her high school career, averaging 22.2 points per game.

After arriving at North Carolina, Kelly immediately became a key contributor, playing in all 24 games and making 23 starts. She was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team after averaging 11 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

As a sophomore in 2021-22, Deja Kelly averaged 16.5 points per game, which ranked fourth in the ACC. She earned her first of three first-team All-ACC selections following that season.

Kelly once again averaged 16.5 points per game in 2022-23, while earning first-team All-ACC honors for the second straight year.

She earned her third first-team All-ACC selection this past season after averaging 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

Deja Kelly planning to enter the transfer portal is not a complete surprise. She addressed her frustrations with the way the 2023-24 season played out following a loss to South Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. UNC dealt with injuries throughout the season, forcing Kelly to play out of position at times.

“This was one of our toughest years,” Kelly said. “It required a lot of pick-me-up from us vets and obviously the injuries hit us hard. … There were some moments and strides throughout the season where you saw a lot of resiliency, but there were moments where there wasn’t. So I think it was a lot of up and down.

“It took a toll on everyone mentally a lot. This was probably one of our toughest years, for sure.”

Kelly also briefly addressed her future during that press conference.

“I don’t think there’s a good amount of words that can describe what we’ve done for this program and how we’ve built it up to where it is now,” Kelly said of her recruiting class.

“I can just say I’m really grateful to have been a part of it this past four years, whatever the future holds.”