By King Jemison
There are hundreds of graduate transfers throughout women’s college basketball this season. But at Northwestern, there’s only been one in at least the past 16 years: Maggie Pina.
Pina entered the transfer portal in May and committed to Northwestern within a few hours. Her sudden arrival has provided a major boost to the 2023-24 Wildcats season — and may open the door for future grad transfers to follow.
[Video of Maggie Pina at Northwestern women’s basketball practice plays]
JEMISON: Maggie Pina’s path to Northwestern began with a random conversation among her Boston University teammates.
MAGGIE PINA, Northwestern graduate transfer guard: We were talking about some of the transfers coming in onto the field hockey team. And something just clicked.
I decided one afternoon around 4 p.m. that I wanted to enter the transfer portal, and by 5 p.m. I’d contacted my administrator and had already entered.
JEMISON: Coming off a decorated two-sport career at BU, Pina became one of over 300 grad transfers in women’s college basketball this season.
[Video of Pina making a shot while at Boston University plays]
But at Northwestern, she’s one of a kind — the first grad transfer in head coach Joe McKeown’s 16-year tenure.
PINA: I reached out to a bunch of different schools. Northwestern was the first one to get back to me. [Assistant coach Tangela Smith] got back to me within an hour or so of me having emailed them.
MAGGIE LYON, Northwestern assistant coach: Something that specifically I love about Maggie is like she knows what she wants.
And so when she emailed us and we looked at her stuff, and we had a couple conversations with her AAU coach and college coach, it was just seemed like a fit right away.
JEMISON: Before midnight on the same day she entered the transfer portal, she had committed to Northwestern.
PINA: So that was a very stressful seven hours, I think.
NARRATOR: Since arriving in Evanston, Pina has made a tremendous impact, even reaching 1,000 points for her career.
JASMINE MCWILLIAMS, Northwestern senior guard: She’s a great shooter. I just know if I’m giving her the ball – and I’m usually the person who’s crashing, but sometimes I don’t crash because I know she’s going to make it.
LYON: She’s almost like a second coach. She sees things that we’re saying, and she tries to tell people on the baseline.
JEMISON: Her success may open the door for more grad transfers to head to Northwestern.
[Video of Pina hitting a shot for Northwestern vs. Iowa plays]
MCWILLIAMS: I don’t know if there is a lot of opportunity for grad transfers, but every other school is doing it. I think it’s a real benefit for us to keep doing it. Maggie was a great addition.
PINA: I think that having a grad transfer … you need them to be able to lead in a way that you can’t always ask of a freshman.
So hopefully he’ll be able to find other grad transfers who want to do that, and I hope this is as good of an experience for them as it has been for me.
JEMISON: Even Northwestern coaches say they’re more likely to consider future grad transfers after working with Maggie Pina.
[Video of Pina hitting a shot for Northwestern vs. Southeast Missouri State plays]
In Evanston, I’m King Jemison for Medill Reports.
King Jemison is in the sports media specialization at Medill. You can follow him on X @king_jemison.