Videos by OutKick
Hailey Van Lith is heading south to join the reigning national champions. Her commitment comes with an interesting timeline of events that could allude to behind-the-scenes ongoings.
Van Lith, one of the biggest names in women’s college basketball, became the most sought-after player to hit the transfer portal when she announced her surprising decision at the beginning of April. Now, less than four weeks later, she is bringing her talents to Baton Rouge.
Van Lith played her first three years at Louisville and helped lead the Cardinals to two Elite Eights and a Final Four. The 5-foot-7 guard led the team in scoring in each of the last two years, but was snubbed when it came to postseason awards.
Every time that Van Lith is on the court, her team has a chance to win. Especially when the roster around her is coming off of a national championship and includes Angel Reese. She’s like that.
Kim Mulkey and the Tigers have the most dangerous backcourt duo in the country. It would be shocking if LSU did not defend its first-ever national title in 2023/24.
However, Hailey Van Lith’s transfer comes with some questions.
As a five-star recruit in the Class of 202, Van Lith chose to play for Louisville over Baylor. The Bears, led by Mulkey, were considered the runners up in her recruitment and nearly landed her commitment.
Now, three years later, Van Lith will play for Mulkey in the SEC.
A matter of circumstance? Perhaps. Could something have been brewing underneath the surface? Perhaps.
Both of those ideas can be true, especially in the modern era of the transfer portal and NIL.
Van Lith entered the transfer portal with an important distinction. She was listed as a ‘do not contact.’
It is not uncommon for an athlete to enter the transfer portal with a ‘do not contact’ label. The specific tag means that the athlete is asking for other programs to hold off on reaching out, and gives the athlete the autonomy to reach out to the programs for which he/she is interested.
For Van Lith, it allowed her to avoid offers from almost every program in the country. Instead, she was able to be in contact with the schools that she wanted to contact, and only the schools that she wanted to contact.
At the same time, when a player enters the portal as a ‘do not contact,’ it often means that he/she already knows where she/he wants to end up. Considering that Van Lith took only one visit to the school that later got her commitment, that could have been what happened here.
Did Van Lith already know that she was going to play for LSU when she hit the transfer portal, just days after the Tigers cut down the nets? It is a question that may not ever be answered. Neither she, nor the program, nor the program’s NIL collective, are going to speak on exactly how things went down.
Van Lith could have seen LSU win the title and called Mulkey to let her know that she wants to get a ring of her own. The script could have been flipped.
Either way, regardless of how it played out, Van Lith is headed to Baton Rouge.