Florida Gators women's basketball announces addition of three transfers for 2022-23 season

Graham Hall
Gator Sports
Florida Gators head basketball coach and honorary captain Kelly Rae Finley does the Gator Chomp before the coin toss on April 14 before the annual Orange and Blue spring game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.

The Florida women’s basketball program announced the addition of three transfers Thursday for the 2022-23 season, head coach Kelly Rae Finley’s first full season without the interim tag.

Senior guards Leilani Correa and KK Deans will join junior center Ra Shaya Kyle in Gainesville as immediately eligible transfers, giving the Gators a trio of former top 100 prospects. 

Correa arrives in Gainesville after three seasons at St. John's, where she was twice named All-Big East fir. She led the team in scoring last season with 17.3 points per game, while also averaging 5.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

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Leilani Correa praises atmosphere of Florida program

St. John's Rayven Peeples (20) passes to Leilani Correa (2) as Connecticut's Olivia Nelson-Ododa (20) and Christyn Williams (13) defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

“Leilani is a great addition to our Gator family! She has a high IQ and is an elite three-level scorer. Her ability to create for others as well as for herself will allow us to have versatility in how we play,” Finley said of Correa. “She is excellent at reading defenses and has a great feel for the game. Off the court, Leilani is charismatic and fun-loving — Gator fans will love getting to know her.”

Correa praised the atmosphere of the UF program under Finley, saying it was a significant element in her decision to transfer from St. John's. 

“As soon as I stepped on campus and spoke to the staff and girls, I knew it’d be a perfect fit. It’s nothing like I’ve ever felt before — the family environment, the toughness and the way Kelly pushes everyone to be their best,” Correa said. “I can’t wait to play for her and the coaching staff because they are going to have me playing my best game.”

West Virginia guard KK Deans talks with reporters during the Big 12 NCAA college basketball media days Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Deans arrives in Gainesville as a graduate transfer from West Virginia, though it’s unknown whether she’ll be cleared in time for the regular season, considering Deans suffered a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 29. Deans was averaging a team-high 14.5 points per game while also tallying 3.7 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. 

“KK brings passion and additional leadership to Gainesville. She is a strong two-way player that takes pride in her defense. She has proven that she makes tough plays down the stretch on both ends of the floor, from big time shots to taking the necessary charge,” Finley said of Deans. “She is an exciting player in the open floor, one that Gator fans will love to watch. Off the court, KK has a warm inviting personality that will be infectious to both our team and community.”

Purdue center Ra Shaya Kyle (24) grabs the rebound above Ohio State forward Tanaya Beacham (35) during the second quarter of an NCAA women's basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021 at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.

Kyle, a 6-foot-6 transfer from Purdue, is also battling back from a season-ending injury suffered just nine games into her sophomore season. During her freshman season, Kyle displayed a proficiency on the glass at both ends, becoming one of just three freshmen in the Big Ten to pull down at least 30 offensive rebounds.

Kyle finished her inaugural season of collegiate basketball ranked fifth in the nation among freshmen with a defensive rebounding percentage of 25.3% and 10th with a 18.9% total rebounding percentage.

With the Gators returning forward Jordyn Merritt, the addition of Kyle gives the Gators an imposing duo in the frontcourt. 

“I am extremely excited to be joining the Florida Gators family and am looking forward to being an instrumental part of the program moving forward,” Kyle said. “Let’s go Gators!”