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LI's Arella Guirantes will forgo WNBA Draft and return for senior season at Rutgers 

Rutgers guard Arella Guirantes against Northwestern on Dec.

Rutgers guard Arella Guirantes against Northwestern on Dec. 28, 2018. Credit: AP/Adam Hunger

Bellport native Arella Guirantes will forgo the WNBA Draft and return to Rutgers for her senior season, the school announced on Tuesday.

Tuesday was the deadline for eligible juniors to declare for the draft, which will be held on April 17.

Guirantes, a 5-11 redshirt junior, was a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection after leading the conference in scoring at 20.6 points through 30 games. Rutgers (22-9, 11-8) lost in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament but was projected to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA, however, canceled the tournament because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Guirantes indicated in a statement released by the school Tuesday that unfinished business helped lead her back to Rutgers.

"I have my goals written down, and I didn't write them down for nothing," she said. "This morning I read my Bible and started reflecting. I was feeling overwhelmed and feeling anxious to get it over with. This verse stuck out to me and reminded me the process is part of the journey.

“I was going to make a decision to get it over with, but this decision is what I'm supposed to be going through. What I needed to do was be faithful toward my goals. I want to be the Big Ten Player of the Year, a first-team All-American and win a championship with Rutgers basketball. This is what I'm supposed to go through to be prepared for those moments."

Guirantes was projected to be a first- or second-round pick in most WNBA mock drafts. She averaged 12.1 points as a sophomore for Rutgers after transferring from Texas Tech and made a huge jump as a junior.

“I wouldn’t say it’s been a dream year, but I think I’m finally coming into my own,” Guirantes told Newsday last month. “I feel I’m doing more. It’s nice to see the work you put in translate.”

Guirantes was Newsday’s Suffolk Player of the Year as a senior in 2015, averaging 34.8 points, 16.2 rebounds and 4.3 blocks. She finished her five-year career at Bellport High School with 2,251 points, which at the time ranked ninth in Long Island girls basketball history.

"Arella is the perfect leader to bring Rutgers women's basketball to the next level as we continue our resurgence as a national power,"  coach C. Vivian Stringer said in a statement. "We appreciate her dedication to our program and her commitment to excellence. Her work ethic and competitive drive is second to none and we are excited to welcome her back for her senior season."

Guirantes will get one more season with Stringer, who has more than 1,000 coaching wins in her Hall of Fame career.

"It's one of the reasons I came to Rutgers," Guirantes said of her coach. "To learn from one of the best of all time. We are part of each other's journey and we are both leaving a legacy at Rutgers."

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