Dingle starts one of her trademark hard drives to the basket. (File photo from KSU website.)
Asiah Dingle, the 5-4 sophomore guard who led Kent State in scoring last season, is transferring.
Dingle announced her decision on Twitter Thursday afternoon.
“Thank you, Kent State, for giving me the opportunity to experience a great university,” she wrote. “I especially want to thank my coaches, teammates and lifelong friends for an amazing two years. After much thought with my family, I will be transferring and pursuing a new home.”
Dingle scored 785 points in her two seasons in Kent and made the MAC all-freshman team her first year. She scored most of her points on aggressive drives to the basket and had quick hands on defense. She was fifth in the MAC in steals this season.
Dingle started at point guard for her first year and a half, She missed two games in early February with a disciplinary suspension, then came back as the first player off the bench.
She averaged close to 30 minutes of the game the rest of the season and played the best basketball of her college career, making almost 55 percent of her shots. Her play was integral to KSU’s late-season run to the MAC East title and their quarterfinal win in the MAC Tournament.
Dingle, Boston Globe player of the year in her division in high school, was a key member of coach Todd Starkey’s outstanding recruiting class of 2018. Starkey pushed her hard and made it clear she had areas to improve, especially in turnovers and fouls. But he also once talked of her as potential MAC player of the year some day.
Starkey said Dingle’s move wasn’t a complete surprise.
“She’s looking for a fresh start,” he told reporter Allen Moff of the Record-Courier. “She’s trying to get closer to home, where she has family going through some significant health situations (not related to the coronavirus). I think that played a pretty big part in her decision. We weren’t blindsided by it. We knew it was a possibility. We wish her all the best.”
Dingle’s transfer leaves a significant hole on the Flashes’ roster. For two years, she played handled the point guard spot far more than anyone else. Many teams had a hard time keeping her from driving to the basket.
Fellow sophomore Mariah Modkins started when Dingle became the first player off the bench. She’s a calmer presence at the point and a better 3-point shooter than Dingle, who made only two long-distance shots all season. But Modkins is generously listed at 5-1 and can struggle against taller guards. She averaged three points and two assists in about 16 minutes a game for the season and a little higher in conference play.
The Flashes have one of Ohio’s top high school point guards in its incoming freshman class. Casey Santoro of Bellevue is a 5-4 guard who scored more than 2,100 points in her high school career. She was first- or second-team all-Ohio for all four years in high school and district player of the year twice. This season she averaged 25.2 points a game.
Santoro’s high school record is quite similar to Central Michigan’s Molly Davis and Miami’s Peyton Scott, both of whom made the MAC’s all-freshman team.
Beyond Modkins and Santoro, there is no true point guard on the KSU roster. The third person who ran the offense last season was senior Megan Carter. Freshman Katie Shumate and sophomore Hannah Young, I think, played some point in high school.
Kent State still has three scholarships available. I’m pretty sure Kent State is still actively recruiting for the 2020 class, but most highly ranked players have committed by now. Looking for a graduate transfer is also a possibility.
There are literally hundreds of players in the NCAA’s transfer portal. But recruiting nationally is in some turmoil because of coronavirus quarantines. The NCAA has barred any off-campus visits by coaches and any visits by prospective players to campus. Few players want to commit to a school they’ve never visited.
“We’ve got scholarships available,” Starkey said in his interview with Moff. “We’ve got the room and ability to potentially bring in some other players. But we don’t think it’s absolutely essential. The only thing we’re really interested in is a good fit, a player that would potentially help us get significantly better.”
The Flashes return six of their high top scorers from last season, even without Dingle. Besides Santoro, they add Linsey Marchese, a 6-4 transfer from Indiana who was one of the top high school centers in the country, and 6-4 freshman Lexi Jackson, who averaged a double-double her last two years in high school.