January 21, 2022 

Maryland transfer Lavender Briggs looks for a fresh start – and a clean bill of health

'I have a lot of love for Florida and everything they are doing here, but I feel like they kind of failed me'

If 2022 – a year full of new starts, new hopes and new dreams – were a person, it would look like Lavender Briggs.

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Since the start of the year, the former Florida star has dealt with nagging injuries, an unexpected end to her season and transferring schools – and we are only three weeks in.

The 20-year-old junior announced on social media on Jan. 6 – four days after she last played for the Gators – that she would miss the remainder of the season due to a stress reaction in her lower leg. Shortly after, reports surfaced that she had entered the transfer portal.

But 2022 is now looking up for Briggs thanks to her recent move to Maryland. She committed to play for the Terrapins, ranked No. 12 in the nation in the latest AP poll, after considering Tennessee as well.

“The coaches are great. The team is awesome. I want to play with them because they are very talented,” Briggs told The Next shortly after she announced her decision on Monday on social media. “I believe they can help me be great and we can do something special.”

That “something special” is winning a championship. “My goal is still to win the championship wherever I go. So that is at the forefront of my mind,” she said.

For Maryland, a team bitten by the injury bug this season, Briggs brings much-needed versatility and experience she gained while playing for the Gators.

Briggs, a Provo, Utah, native, was Florida’s leading scorer and rebounder through the first 14 games this year, averaging 12.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. At the time of her departure, the 6’1 guard was only 39 points away from 1,000 in her career. Per Florida Athletics, she and teammate Kiki Smith were last year’s highest-scoring duo in the SEC, averaging 38.3 points per game.

She was a three-time All-SEC honoree and was the first Gator in five years to earn postseason All-SEC honors when she was named a Second Team member after the 2020-21 season. This season, she was a preseason All-SEC pick.

But after enduring injuries, setbacks, shortened seasons and unrealized dreams, Briggs made the decision to leave Florida and enter the transfer portal.

Her decision, she said, stemmed from what she believes was a lack of proper treatment for her injuries.

In addition to the stress fracture in her left shin suffered a few months ago, over the past year or so, Briggs has dealt with a hip injury and did not finish last season’s SEC Tournament after suffering a left foot injury.

“I have a lot of love for Florida and everything they are doing here, but I feel like they kind of failed me. I am disappointed because it just happened to be one injury after another that led to another and another,” she said. “I feel like we weren’t doing things smartly there so I could be as healthy as possible so I could play this season.”

Officials at Florida said in a statement: “Our team of healthcare professionals provides high-level, expert care to our student-athletes. The health outcomes achieved are the result of attention paid and effort on the part of these professionals, specialty consultants and the students themselves. We respect Lavender’s decision to transfer and wish her nothing but the best.”

Now, Briggs is looking toward the future as she prepares for a fresh start with Maryland. She has two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2022-23 season and still has aspirations of a pro career.

“I do want to go to the WNBA, but who knows what the cards hold for me,” she said. “So we will see.”

That is down the line; up next is “getting my body healthy as well as mind. Getting very strong and stable.”

“I am taking this time to heal my body and doing what I can right now so I can come back stronger,” Briggs added. “I am just ready to move on to the next and get acclimated with everyone, put my head down and start grinding physically and mentally and everything so I can get back to where I was and surpass that.”

She said she will come to Maryland as a hard worker who puts the team first. “They are getting someone who will bring the team together and push everyone to bring their best. Someone who loves the game of basketball and will do everything to win,” she said.

“I need to heal my body and make sure this injury goes away so that coming next year I’ll be 100%. It’s important to put my body on stop right now so it can rest and get back to 100%.”

Written by Dorothy J. Gentry

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