« Women’s Basketball 2018-19

Kitija Laksa

School

University of South Florida

Position
Wing
Major
Psychology

Classroom

Named the American Athletic Conference Student-Athlete of the Year in 2017-18, Kitija Laksa boasted a 3.918 GPA in the spring 2018 semester. She is just the second Bull to receive the honor from the AAC. The psychology major is on track to graduate and helped the Bulls earn the American Athletic Conference Team Academic Excellence Award, which is presented to the team with the highest GPA in the conference (3.5), for the second straight year. Laksa is a three-time American Athletic Conference All-Academic team selection and earned the Academic Achievement Award from the USF women’s basketball team. She owns a 3.74 cumulative GPA.

Character

Laksa is best known for her impeccable work ethic. She is a great leader who shows accountability and is responsible not only for herself but her teammates on and off the court. She has been a consistent, dependable leader for USF since her first days on campus. Head Coach Jose Fernandez describes Kitija as an exemplary representative of USF in the classroom, on the court and in the community for the last three years. He attributes her maturity to her experience playing with her senior national team at the highest level of basketball and representing her country at the EuroBasket and now the World Cup. Her leadership traits around her team are visible, and it translates to the floor. In her time in Tampa, she has grown as a person through watching and playing with incredible basketball players who have come before her. Her focus now is to bring along young student-athletes and lead USF in her final season of eligibility.

Community

Laksa has contributed to the Bulls total of more than 300 hours of community service in her past three years. USF women’s basketball is known within the Tampa community for exceptional community service through partnerships with the Paralympic Club of Tampa, the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa and more than a dozen other organization, and Laksa is no exception to that standard. During the school year, Laksa has made time to serve the community alongside her teammates for the past three seasons.

Competition

Laksa returns in 2018-19 as USF’s top returning scorer, averaging 21.1 points per game. She owns two NCAA records, five USF records and is chasing the all-time leading scoring record at USF. She represented her home country of Latvia in the FIBA World Cup in 2018 in their maiden appearance in the Cup. She owns the NCAA record for single-season free-throw percentage, hitting 96.5 percent of her shots in 2017-18 (111 of 114) and the NCAA record for consecutive three-pointers made with 11, set in December 2017. She owns the sophomore scoring record at USF with 634 points, the junior scoring record with 717 points, and the free-throw percentage in a season and career records. Voted unanimously to the preseason American Athletic Conference First Team for the 2018-19 season, she is a two-time WBCA All-America Honorable Mention selection (2016-17, 2017-18).

Her watchlist accolades and national player of the week accolades continue to pile up, named for the second year in a row to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Preseason Watch List, after being named to the Final Five in 2017-18. She is a two-time American Athletic Conference First Team selection (2016-17, 2017-18), and a one-time second team selection (2015-16). Four years after being unanimously named to the AAC Freshman of the Year (2015-16), she is projected as a top-10 WNBA draft pick in 2019.