Piper, Illini agree to part ways

CHAMPAIGN — Mckenzie Piper’s recent absence from the Illinois women’s basketball team is now permanent.

Illini coach Matt Bollant announced Friday that, in a “mutually agreed” decision, the sophomore forward is no longer a member of the team.

“After discussions this past week with Mckenzie Piper, it is mutually agreed that the Illinois women’s basketball program may not be the best fit for her and she will begin to explore other options,” Bollant said in a statement released by the UI athletic department.

Piper was not with the team for either of its games this week —  against Purdue on Monday and at Ohio State on Thursday. Bollant declined to reveal the reason for the absences, but the UI coach later confirmed that he and Piper met Tuesday to discuss her status. On Wednesday after practice, Bollant indicated there would be a follow-up discussion between the two.

The 6-foot Piper, who was recruited to the UI by the previous coaching staff, was a backup who saw increasingly diminished playing time this season. After appearing in eight consecutive games in November and early December, the former three-star recruit from Iowa City, Iowa, did not play in seven of the next 10.

Overall, Piper appeared in 11 games this season, averaging 4.8 minutes and producing 1.2 points and 0.9 rebound per game.

As a freshman, the two-time Iowa all-stater appeared in 23 of the Illini’s 33 games, making four starts. She averaged 8.0 minutes, 1.4 points and 1.6 rebounds that season.

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