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Maryland's Eleanna Christinaki to skip senior season, play pro basketball in Europe

Maryland women’s basketball wing Eleanna Christinaki, a native of Athens, Greece, who developed into an important if inconsistent contributor after joining the Terps midseason last year, will forgo her senior season and seek a professional career in Europe next season, coach Brenda Frese announced Friday.

Christinaki, a rising senior, is returning home to play with the Greek women’s national team this summer, the team announced. She averaged 11.8 points and 4.6 rebounds in 22 games for Maryland last season and was named a Big Ten Conference honorable mention. The team also has lost key seniors Kristen Confroy and Ieshia Small to graduation.

"We are excited for Eleanna that she will be living out her dream to become a pro,” Frese said in a release. “We pride ourselves with the number of players we have helped earn that opportunity while playing here at Maryland. We appreciate all that she has meant to our team and program. We wish her all the best."

Christinaki transferred to Maryland in January 2017 after a falling-out with Florida coach Amanda Butler early in her sophomore season with the Gators, whom she led in scoring. She enrolled at Maryland for the spring semester but was ineligible to play until the Terps’ 13th game last year, a 113-49 rout of Coppin State in which she came off the bench to score 32 points on 12-for-20 shooting.

She remained a reserve until starting wing Blair Watson tore her ACL in early January. Christinaki was the Terps' third-leading scorer in Big Ten play but struggled to regain the accuracy she showed at Florida. In 16 league games, including 11 starts, she shot a team-worst 35.4 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Still, she often spoke of her happiness with Maryland, especially the teammates who had eased her move to a new culture.

“I am so thankful for everyone at Maryland for the opportunity to be a part of this program,” Christinaki said in the release. “I love my teammates, the coaches and the fans that welcomed me. …

“I want to especially thank Coach Brenda for being a great and supportive coach in every way. She is a coach that listens to her players and wants them all to be successful. Without her, I would not have been able to make some of my dreams come true. My teammates are all great people and I wish them all the success. This team will be very good next year and I will be watching.”

jshaffer@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonas_shaffer

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