With a game already under their belt for the 2018-19 season, the back-to-back NCAA runner-ups Mississipi State got some welcome news Wednesday night. After submitting a waiver for immediate eligibility for UConn transfer Andra Espinoza-Hunter, the Bulldogs got the thumbs up and the 5-foot-11 guard will suit up Friday when the team travels to play Virginia.
Espinoza-Hunter played seven games for the Huskies a season ago before leaving the school after the fall semester. While speculation surrounding her departure from the school swirled, a video of UConn head coach Geno Auriemma speaking to a group of donors emerged and ultimately played a big part in her waiver passing.
Under normal circumstances, a player has to sit out two semesters once they have enrolled at a new school. Espinoza-Hunter enrolled at Mississippi State this summer, meaning that without the waiver, she would not have been eligible until the 2019-20 season. With the comments made by Auriemma that seem to suggest that Espinoza-Hunter was asked to leave, the door opened up for her to be granted immediate eligibility.
Regardless, the decision by the NCAA will certainly leave many questioning the governing body’s rational and inconsistency when it comes to similar cases.
The addition of the Ossining, NY is a needed one for the Bulldogs. The loss of All-American guard Victoria Vivians and her 19.9 ppg left a huge hole for head coach Vic Schaefer that will now be filled by the former New York Gatorade Player of the Year. Espinoza-Hunter scored over 2,000-career points in high school and averaged 36.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.1 apg and 3.0 spg over that career.
Mississippi State, ranked #6 in the country, won their season opener over Southeast Missouri State, 88-53 on Tuesday night. The game against Virginia is a return game from a year ago when the Bulldogs took down the Cavaliers 68-53 in Starkville.