Holly Winterburn is quitting the USA and returning to Leicester Riders.

Arriving at the University of Oregon last summer as one of the UK’s most highly-touted prospects in the years, the former Great Britain Under-20 star endured an unhappy freshman season despite appearing in 28 games while averaging 11.4 minutes for the Pac-12 regular season and tournament champions who were denied an expected shot at the NCAA title due to the coronavirus shutdown.

Winterburn initiated a transfer in April to University of California-Davis but has now surprisingly decided to pass on the move and accept a three-year professional deal with the Riders while studying at Loughborough College.

“I’m super excited to be back,” she said. “I’m in a great place mentally and physically so I can’t wait to get the preseason underway.

“Playing in America was an amazing experience and I’m grateful for the memories and relationships I made. However, I missed home a lot so coming back to the UK was the best decision for me.”I have the perfect situation with the Riders, being able to study and play in the place that made me who I am today.”

Last summer Holly was the leading light for the GB U20s, averaging 18.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists and named to the FIBA U20 European Championship All-Star Five, a display that brought calls for her to be included in the senior squad for the 2019 Women’s EuroBasket.

Now, she is set to become a fulcrum at the Riders as head coach Jesper Sundberg bids to pick up where his side left off in lifting the WBBL Trophy what proved to be the final game of last season.

“We’re really excited about having Holly Winterburn re-join the team. She is somebody who has come through the academy, was the former WBBL Young Player of the Year and had a great experience in America.

“This is a huge story for both the club and British basketball to keep our best players in the UK to study and play professionally. Hopefully we’ll see more in the future.”

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