Two years ago, Azana Baines decided against joining the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team.
She has changed her mind.
Baines announced on Instagram on Wednesday that she intends to transfer from Duke to Virginia Tech.
“I’m a relationship-type of kid. I feel like I have a great relationship with the [Tech] head coach — Coach Kenny Brooks,” Baines said Thursday in a phone interview from her New Jersey home. “I feel like I could fit perfectly into their program.”
When Baines verbally committed to Duke in the fall of 2018, her other finalists were Virginia Tech and Miami.
“I still had that relationship with Coach Brooks,” Baines said. “He still had open arms towards me.”
The 6-foot-1 off-guard averaged 4.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 14.8 minutes in 29 games as a freshman last season, when Duke went 18-12 overall and 12-6 in the ACC. She started four games, with her last start coming in a Jan. 12 win over the Hokies.
Baines scored in double figures in five games, although none of those games came after Jan. 5. She had 15 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes in a loss at nationally ranked Louisville. She also scored 15 points in a win over Boston College. She had 12 points and five rebounds in a loss at nationally ranked Texas A&M.
“I just don’t think that I could be my best self at Duke,” she said. “It was a good experience. It definitely gave me some exposure to the ACC. But I just felt like going to Virginia Tech would be a better fit for me as a player and as a human being.”
Only once during Duke’s final five games did she play more than five minutes — that was when she played 10 minutes in a Feb. 27 loss at Virginia Tech.
“The playing time wasn’t the major factor in me deciding to leave because I understand [Duke coach Joanne McCallie] had four seniors who had so much more experience than I did,” Baines said.
“Relationships are important to me. But I didn’t feel like I had a good relationship with the coaches, as well as I didn’t have a lot of relationships off the court …[with] the people at Duke … outside of the team.”
Baines entered the transfer portal in early April. She did not get to visit Tech because of the new coronavirus pandemic, but she had already visited the campus during the recruiting process when she was in high school.
She said she also talked about transferring with coaches from Boston College, North Carolina State and Central Florida.
Baines expects to play on the wing for Virginia Tech.
She made only five 3-pointers last season, when she had 23 assists and 46 turnovers.
“I like to drive to the basket, as well as facilitate,” she said.
Baines was rated the No. 61 high school senior in the nation in 2019 by ESPN. She scored 1,751 points in her high school career. She averaged 20.0 points and 9.8 rebounds as a senior.
The addition of Baines puts the finishing touch on Tech’s 15-woman roster for next season.
Baines becomes the third transfer to commit to Virginia Tech this spring, including Wofford point guard Da’Ja Green, who is rated the No. 3 graduate transfer in the nation by ESPN, and junior-college transfer D’asia Gregg. They join four fall signees in Brooks’ 2019-20 recruiting class, including Georgia Amoore, who redshirted after enrolling at Tech last January.
Under current NCAA transfer rules, Baines will have to sit out next season unless she gets a waiver.
The NCAA Division I Council could vote at its May 20 meeting on a rule change that would enable undergraduate football, men’s and women’s basketball players, baseball and hockey transfers to play right away without having to sit out a year (the same green light that other athletes already have). Players would get that green light just once in their undergraduate careers.
But the Division I Board of Directors has recommended the council not make such a change at this time, so the council might vote against the rule change or put off the vote until next year.
If Baines does get to play next season, that would help the Hokies because off-guard Dara Mabrey entered the transfer portal in March.