— Maya Nnaji (@maya_nnaji) December 15, 2023
The speculation by misguided fans of Arizona sophomore center Maya Nnaji transferring to another school or being disgruntled with Adia Barnes’ program can come to an end.
Nnaji announced through social media that she is “stepping away from basketball to start a new chapter of my life.”
The sister of former Arizona men’s standout Zeke Nnaji — now with the Denver Nuggets — is in the Accelerated Pathway to Medical Education (APME) program at Arizona which is a track for medical school.
She was not in attendance during Wednesday’s game against No. 5 Texas at McKale Center, lost by the Wildcats 88-75.
Arizona coach Adia Barnes announced after the game that Maya Nnaji “is off the team right now, focusing on academics.”
Barnes when asked if Maya Nnaji could return said, “Possibly.”
“(The APME program) is really challenging. It has a lot of demands. She misses a lot because of basketball so it’s difficult,” Barnes added. “That balance is hard, so when she needed a break, I was very supportive and all in on it because that was what she signed up for.
“I knew she was going to that program when she got here, so I have to support what she is doing because her dreams and aspirations are to be a doctor.”
Maya Nnaji announced in her social media post that she “would like to thank the Wildcat Nation for embracing me and my family, and showing unwavering support love and support.”
“All of your uplifting encouragement has been felt and is greatly appreciated,” she added. “Thank you to my coaches and my teammates for everything these past two years; it has been an honor to rep the A.
“In light of recent events, it has become clear to me that I need to prioritize my main goal and true life’s purpose: becoming a physician. With the support of my family and guidance from Above, I am stepping away from basketball to start a new chapter of my life.
“Please respect my decision and refrain from entertaining any speculation from outside sources.”
Nnaji was the third-leading scorer for Arizona at 10.2 points per game. She was shooting 47.9 percent from the field and averaging 3.4 rebounds a game.
Arizona (7-3) opens its Pac-12 season at Arizona State on Sunday at 5 p.m.