O'Connor photo

Senior transfer from Loyola of Chicago Abby O'Connor had her transfer waiver approved in December, allowing her to compete as a Zag one season early.

As a six-foot senior transfer to Gonzaga University, Abby O’Connor was not expected to play the 2020-21 women’s basketball season.

That was until O’Connor’s waiver was approved by the NCAA to play immediately due to a combination of her unique circumstances surrounding her transfer eligibility and COVID-19 regulations.

“Obviously she was planning to sit out and even twice she was planning to sit out when they were gonna make the transfer rule unanimous,” Lisa Fortier, head coach of GU women's basketball, said.

Previously due to NCAA transfer rules, O’Connor was going to have to sit out the 2020- 21 season after she left her three year stint at Loyola Chicago University.

During O’Connor’s time at Loyola, she averaged 32.7 minutes per game in 2019-20, with an average of 12.3 points per game shooting 38% from the floor and 30.2% from long range.

“With anybody that has the ball, nobody is getting past Abby,” freshman forward Yvonne Ejim said.

The 6-foot guard scored 1,124 points (12.5 per game), 634 rebounds (7.0 per game) and 135 assists (1.5 per game) and 106 total blocks (1.2 per game) gets her chance to play for a national championship for the Ramblers in three years. 

“She hasn’t even showed all that she can do because we haven’t asked her too,” Fortier said. “She actually a really good offensive player. We are kind of asking her to play defense and to rebound right now.”

During her time with the Ramblers, O’Connor became the 25th player in program history to surpass 1,000 career points.

“She has a lot of length and she adds a lot of depth to our bench,” said senior forward Jenn Wirth. “She’s getting awards for us, she’s making great shots and she’s helping us out on defense big time.”

For GU, the Indiana-native plays defense, All-Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) All- Defensive honors in 2018-19.

“Abby is [a] very long and agile player on defense,” Ejim said. “She gets a lot of deflections.”

As O’Connor transferred at the end of her junior year into a COVID-19 world, she never had a chance to formally visit the campus.

“I never met her in person til she came,” Fortier said. “We had just done an online home visit and online campus visit so she’d have some familiarity.”

Off the court, O’Connor has solidified herself as a great teammate and a mentor to the freshmen, despite being new to the team herself.

“The best thing that she does is come in and bring a spark of energy,” Wirth said.

Described as steady and consistent with a great demeanor, O’Connor has begun to settle in with her teammates by hosting one-on-ones, study sessions, movie nights and attending Zoom parties with her peers in the Kennedy Apartments on campus.

“She wanted to learn and be part of the program and have a great experience... She looks like she enjoys it and is happy to be out there, she’s happy to practice, she talks on the court,” Fortier said.

O'Connor will have one year of eligibility remaining.

“She’s really a great addition to our team and we are so happy that we got her,” Fortier said

Mila Yoch is the digital editor. Follow her on Twitter: @milagrosyoch.

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