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Forward Hunter to leave Duke

Head coach Gail Goestenkors and her women's basketball team took a big hit when would-be sophomore Brittany Hunter, a 6-foot-4 power forward, announced her plans to transfer from Duke Friday.

"I enjoyed this past year at Duke and have developed some great friendships with my teammates," Hunter said in a statement. "But after thinking it over, it is in my best interest to pursue the rest of my career at another institution. The Blue Devil organization and the fans who follow the program have been wonderful to be associated with."

Hunter was never fully healthy after being sidelined with a torn lateral meniscus in the third game of the season against Purdue. Also hampered by plantar fasciitis in both feet, the Columbus, Ohio product had a disappointing season, averaging just 8.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in 27 games.

She was the lynchpin of the second of two straight top-ranked recruiting classes for Duke, raising hopes that she might be the missing piece to the Blue Devils' national championship puzzle.

The 2003 Parade National Player of the Year as a senior at Brookhaven High School, Hunter was the consensus top-ranked women's basketball recruit in her class. A dominating force in the paint, she averaged 23.5 points, 17.6 rebounds and six blocks per game her senior season.

"Obviously we're disappointed with Brittany's decision to transfer," Goestenkors said. "We love Brittany and wish her and her family the best in their future endeavors."

Next year, Hunter would have likely been the starting power forward for a Blue Devil team seeking to fill the hole left by graduation of four-year starter Iciss Tillis. Instead, the Blue Devils will likely rely on senior Wynter Whitley and incoming freshman Chante Black.

Duke will be left with 10 players for the upcoming season, including one senior, Whitley, and four juniors, Monique Currie, who redshirted in 2002-03 due to injury, Lindsey Harding, Mistie Bass and Jessica Foley and two sophomores, Alison Bales and Caitlin Howe. Three freshman, Black, Laura Kurz and Wanisha Smith, join the team next year.

Of these, Harding, Bass and Currie started for last year's Blue Devils, a team that won 30 games, made it to the NCAA Elite Eight and won its fifth consecutive ACC title.

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