- Associated Press - Friday, June 19, 2015

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina has granted a release for all-Atlantic Coast Conference center Stephanie Mavunga to pursue a transfer.

Mavunga said in a statement Friday she has “a heavy heart” in seeking the release to speak with other schools, and said it was for “personal reasons.”

“I have nothing but great things to say about the program and I am very grateful for the mentorship and development that I received along the way at UNC,” Mavunga said. “They have helped me tremendously!”

She averaged 14.4 points and 9.6 rebounds for a team that reached the NCAA round of 16.

Earlier this week, classmate and leading scorer Allisha Gray received her release to pursue a transfer and ultimately signed with South Carolina. And it comes a month after the NCAA hit UNC with five charges connected to the school’s long-running academic fraud scandal, including one focused on the conduct of a women’s basketball adviser.

Mavunga’s departure would mean UNC has lost the entire four-player recruiting class ranked No. 1 nationally in 2013.

Star Diamond DeShields transferred to Tennessee after leading UNC to an NCAA regional final as a freshman. Guard Jessica Washington said last month she is also leaving in search of more playing time in what the school described as a mutual decision.

In a statement, coach Sylvia Hatchell said former players have reached out to show support, and she remains excited about next season.

“There has been a lot of speculation surrounding our program in recent weeks and that’s all it is - speculation,” Hatchell said. “Our players are working every day to get better and I appreciate their efforts.”

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