The players had until Saturday, however, to withdraw their consideration. Other top players to make similar moves included LSU’s Khayla Pointer, Connecticut’s Evina Westbrook, and the Georgia Tech duo of Lorela Cubaj and Kierra Fletcher.
According to the latest mock draft by ESPN, Staiti was a projected 17th overall selection by the New York Liberty in the second round.
Caldwell and Connally did not make announcements, and their statuses for the 2021-22 season are unknown. Because of the pandemic, the NCAA is allowing teams to cross the 15-player limit if players choose to return.
“Coach Joni and my teammates mean the world to me,” Morrison said in her statement. “As much as I want to play professionally one day, there’s no way I could pass up this opportunity.”
After winning 21 games in a shortened season and crossing numerous historical marks, Georgia returns its core. Morrison and Staiti could join Sarah Ashlee Barker, Mikayla Coombs and Jordan Isaacs in an experienced starting lineup. The Lady Bulldogs also have four signees entering the fold — five-star guard Reigan Richardson, in-state product Jillian Hollingshead, three-star Kimora Jenkins and Netherlands product Alina Sendar.
Taylor, after winning the SEC Coach of the Year honors, also earned a contract extension and a raise to a base salary of $850,000 through the 2026-27 season April 2.
The potential loss of four seniors made it seem as if a reloading season might be necessary with a turn in the experience cycle. Suddenly, all of that work came in one announcement.
Smiley and Steady aren’t done yet.
“One more season was too good to pass up,” Staiti said. “I’m back.”