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PROVO — The BYU women's basketball team received an upgrade, and plucked a key contributor off a rival Thursday.
Former Utah guard Malia Nawahine will play her final season of collegiate eligibility at BYU, the Cougars announced Thursday. Nawahine, who is a graduate transfer, will be immediately eligible as a redshirt senior in 2017-18.
The 5-foot-10 combo guard played three seasons for the Utes, where she averaged 10.5 points and 3.2 rebounds while starting all but three games in 2016-17. An athletic, aggressive guard who plays with a chip on her shoulder, Nawahine prepped at nearby Springville High School and her sister Valerie played collegiately at BYU and Utah before finishing her career at BYU-Hawaii.A California native, Nawahine moved to Springville during high school and led the Red Devils to a 25-0 record and a Class 4A state championship as a senior in 2013, when she received Gatorade Utah girls basketball player of the year honors and was named Ms. Basketball by the Deseret News.
Nawahine's final season of eligibility comes as BYU faces the departure of starters Makenzi Pulsipher and Kristine Fuller Nielson on the wing and Kalani Purcell in the post. Leading scorer Cassie Broadhead, who averaged 17.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season, also returns for the 2017-18 season for the Cougars.
Additional newcomers included freshman center Sara Hamson, the 6-foot-7 sister of former BYU star Jennifer Hamson who prepped at Pleasant Grove; and guards Maria Albiero from Londrina, Brazil; Ashley Beckstrand from Desert Hills High School; and former Viking forward Malli Valgardson.