The end of the West Virginia University women’s basketball team’s season — a disappointing one with a 56-54 WNIT loss to Northwestern — still came with good news for the future.
The Mountaineers won’t have to worry about replacing two-time All-Big 12 first-team pick Tynice Martin. Though eligible to leave school for the WNBA draft, Martin will return to WVU next season for her final year of eligibility.
That decision, Martin said, wasn’t a rash one.
“It hasn’t been heavy on my mind,” she told reporters Wednesday night. “I knew I’d have to talk about it eventually. I made the decision months ago. I knew I wanted to come back because of how the season was going — injuries, I wasn’t where I wanted to be, and then when we got to the [WNIT] I was like, ‘This isn’t how I want to go.’”
The Mountaineers (22-11) lost three of their last four in the regular season and dropped their Big 12 tournament opener to Kansas State. That pushed them out of NCAA tournament contention and into the WNIT for the second straight year.
If Martin would have decided to go pro, the WNBA likely would have been calling. ESPN.com most recently projected the Atlanta Dream to take her in the second round, 23rd overall, in the 2019 draft.
Yet Martin believes she has plenty of room to improve. She wants to keep bouncing back from the knee injury that cost her the entire 2017-18 season and gave her the medical redshirt and extra year of eligibility she’s using next season.
“Losing that year on the court, you can kind of tell,” Martin said. “And my sophomore year, I kind of felt like it was a straight line. I didn’t increase anything. I didn’t get better, in my opinion. But next year will be a different story.”
That year will include her assault on the WVU career scoring charts. She finished this season ranked 11th in Mountaineer history with 1,588 points. If she matches the 535 points she scored this season, that would give her 2,123 points for her career and the all-time WVU record.
On top of her two all-conference first-team nods, Martin also was named most outstanding player of the 2017 Big 12 tournament — which WVU won — and last week was named a regional finalist for the WBCA Division I All-America team.