Ashley Owusu came to the Virginia Tech women’s basketball team as a star transfer. But almost a year after she entered the portal, her season ended in infighting with her Hokies teammates and with Owusu reentering the transfer portal.
How did the once-promising partnership reach the breaking point? Just Women’s Sports presents a timeline of Owusu’s year with Virginia Tech, from her transfer announcement to the social media stir after Friday night’s Final Four loss to LSU.
The 6-0 guard announced via Twitter her decision to leave Maryland after three seasons.
“Unfortunately, events that have transpired on and off the court this year have led me to the very difficult but necessary decision to continue my education and basketball career elsewhere,” she wrote.
After her sophomore season with the Terrapins, she won the Ann Meyers Drysdale award as the top shooting guard in the country, which Iowa’s Caitlin Clark has won this season. In her junior season, she averaged 14.3 points and 3.7 assists per game. But she elected to spend her senior season elsewhere.
❤️ pic.twitter.com/IdIpED7OYQ— Ashley Owusu (@Ashleyyowusu15) April 5, 2022
“Wassup Hokie Nation,” Owusu wrote in an Instagram post, revealing her destination for the 2022-23 season.
She joined Virginia Tech as one of the top transfers of the offseason. “I love it here,” she tweeted on July 3, and she echoed the same sentiment on Instagram with a video of herself practicing with her new team.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Ashley Owusu (@ashleyyowusu)
A post shared by Ashley Owusu (@ashleyyowusu)
In her first game for Virginia Tech, Owusu featured in the starting lineup, posted 9 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds in 28 minutes in a 101-45 win against Mount St. Mary’s.
The senior guard scored a season-high 21 points in 26 minutes in Virginia Tech’s 89-28 win against Longwood.
Owusu broke her pinkie finger in the first quarter of the Hokies’ 85-54 win against Nebraska. She had started the first seven games of the year for her new squad, but the injury and subsequent surgery kept her out of the lineup for the next seven weeks.
“Very unselfish — she never really tried to go outside of what we were doing, just trying to figure it out,” Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks told ESPN in December following the injury. “She had some games where she was a little bit in a lull because she was trying to figure it out, and then you kind of see — unfortunately for us — right before she got hurt, she was starting to figure it out.
“I thought she was going to get on a roll and then she gets hurt.”
In her first game back from her injury, Owusu played 21 minutes of the bench, scoring 5 points on 2-for-8 shooting. She did not play as many as 20 minutes again for the rest of the season.
In Virginia Tech’s regular-season finale, a 65-52 win against Georgia Tech, Owusu played just five minutes and did not score. She would not play again for the Hokies, remaining on the bench for the entire postseason.
Two days before this game, she tweeted “freee meee” in response to a video of her playing for Maryland.
The Hokies played their first game of the ACC Tournament, but Owusu did not appear in the 68-42 win against Miami. When asked after the game what she needs to do to get back on the court, she redirected the question to Brooks.
“I’m not sure,” she said. “You’ll have to ask him.”
Virginia Tech went on to win the tournament title, but Owusu did not play in any of the three games.
Brooks told The Roanoke Times that his team found its identity while Owusu was working her way back from injury.
“Everybody can just look and see and tell that we’ve got things going in a tremendous direction,” Brooks said. “[The injury] was an unfair situation — not only for her but for us because it usually takes transfers a little while to get used to your system. And the time they’re usually getting used to it, she was out.
“During that time, we formed a different identity — one that probably would’ve been different if she were healthy and playing.”
No. 1 seed Virginia Tech made a historic run to the first Final Four in school history. During the semifinal contest, a fierce battle with No. 3 seed LSU, Owusu sat on the bench with her team in the first half but did not return to the bench after halftime in the eventual loss.
The team said Owusu “was not feeling well,” The Next’s Mitchell Northam reported. But in response to a tweet asking after Owusu’s whereabouts, teammate Kayana Traylor tweeted, “hmm idk check the lsu bench.” Traylor’s post was retweeted by several teammates, including Elizabeth Kitley and Taylor Soule.
Ashley’s father Emmanuel Owusu responded to Traylor’s tweet, writing: “Maybe you should the truth about how he hasn’t spoken to several kids in the team for months. How about the special group chat the coach has with 7 of the kids.”
hmm idk check the lsu bench https://t.co/jMD7N0ekMr— Kayana Traylor (@kayana_traylor) April 1, 2023
hmm idk check the lsu bench https://t.co/jMD7N0ekMr
Owusu’s former Maryland teammate Angel Reese, who now stars for LSU, tweeted after the game, “FREE MY DAWG @Ashleyyowusu15,” to which Virginia Tech guard Cayla King replied, “She’s been free.”
She’s been free— Cayla King (@caylanicole22) April 1, 2023
She’s been free
Brooks and his players were not asked about the apparent tension between Owusu and her teammates at the postgame press conference, though simmering tempers seemed to boil over on Twitter in the aftermath of the loss.
Owusu entered the transfer portal after the end of the season, Virginia Tech confirmed to ESPN. She has one year of COVID-19 eligibility remaining.
Her decision to enter the portal represents a reversal from her stance in early March, when she told The Next she planned to go pro rather than return for a fifth year.