BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Falling short of the MAC title, this season didn’t end the way any player on the UB women’s basketball team wanted, especially for Summer Hemphill.
In what was supposed to be her final season with the Bulls, Hemphill only played seven games and that’s not the way she wants to go out. With the NCAA granting winter sports athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic, Hemphill is taking advantage of that and returning to UB for the 2021-2022 season.
“I just decided that there’s a lot left on the table both on the court and off the court to settle with the team. And of course I didn’t really play these last two years and I just feel like there’s so much more that I can achieve on the court to help produce to allow the team to have success so I’m definitely working hard and want to leave it all on the table,” Hemphill told News 4 on a zoom call.
Head coach Felisha Legette-Jack announced the news on twitter earlier this week:
The past two seasons, Hemphill has been hampered with injuries. She missed the entire 2019-2020 season with a knee injury. But it hindered her ability to play a full season this past year. She was able to return for the final four games of the season.
Aside from missing time with her injury, not winning the MAC championship and making the NCAA tournament played a big role in her decision to come back.
“That factored in a lot especially once you’ve been there before it’s like you want to get back there and with this opportunity that the NCAA has given the athletes this year why not take advantage of that?,” Hemphill said.
“It’s just so hard to see somebody that gifted have to be sidelined and to know that she wants to come back and try to show the world what she’s capable of doing it just warms my heart,” head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said on a zoom call with News 4.
Even though Hemphill was able to play the final four games of the season, she still didn’t get up to full strength until the very end.
“I feel like within those last few games I started feeling like more so myself but I didn’t have enough games under my belt to really be who I wanted to be,” Hemphill explained.
“But health wise and physically I definitely felt like I was getting to be able to be myself but it just sucks that it was towards the end of the season. If only we had a bit more time I feel like we could have done a lot better, me personally as well.”
Hemphill’s return bolsters UB’s strength in the paint as the Bulls finished 14th in the nation in rebounds per game with 43.17. It also ensures even more expected continuity for next season as they’re only losing senior Hanna Hall.
This core group includes Dyaisha Fair who finished sixth in the nation in scoring with 24.1 points per game. Cheyenne McEvans had a breakout freshman season as well plus center Elea Gaba and forward Adebola Adeyeye.
Hemphill’s return will not only help try to make up for that loss in the MAC semifinals to Bowling Green but the mental aspect of this team as a whole.
“I just love the fact that Summer’s coming back because she didn’t lead the way she can lead. She was so busy trying to get herself back healthy that she really needed to focus on only getting Summer ready,” Legette-Jack said.
“So our culture really kind of diminished a little bit. And she’s a full reason why we built this culture in the last five years. So now having her back we’re gonna win the locker room and that’s where you win it.”