Deja Kelly has officially announced that she will not be returning to Chapel Hill.

What Deja Kelly accomplished for the UNC women’s basketball program over the past four years was truly remarkable. Throughout her tenure, the Tar Heels consistently reached the NCAA Tournament, including a memorable run to the Sweet 16 in 2022. Kelly played a pivotal role each season, consistently scoring in double digits and leading North Carolina in points.

Earlier this offseason, Kelly announced her decision to enter the transfer portal, leaving a slight hope of a return to UNC. However, any speculation about her potential comeback was put to rest on Friday, May 3, when Kelly shared a heartfelt message on her X (formerly Twitter) account.

Similarly, we witnessed Seth Trimble’s situation with the UNC men’s basketball team, although he ultimately withdrew from the portal and will be entering his third season in Chapel Hill.

Reflecting on Kelly’s decision not to return a month ago, it would have likely impacted the outlook of the UNC women’s team differently. Fortunately for the Tar Heels, the players who entered the transfer portal were primarily reserves.

Despite Kelly’s departure, North Carolina is expected to maintain a strong roster, particularly with the return of star forward Alyssa Ustby and the anticipated comeback of every other starter. Additionally, Lexi Donarski has chosen to utilize her final year of eligibility at Chapel Hill.

While it will be strange not to see Kelly in Carolina Blue next season, I extend my best wishes to her for the future.

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