VALPARAISO | When Mallory Ladd grabbed her final rebound against IU-Northwest on Wednesday night, it solidified what appeared to be the first of many regular-season double doubles for the Valparaiso freshman.
Ladd might end up averaging double figures in scoring and rebounding during her career, but she won't be doing it for the Crusaders after the school released a statement on Saturday morning stating that Ladd has been immediately granted a release to leave the team and transfer back to her home town of Evansville.
Ladd's departure comes as a shock as the 6-foot-1 freshman got off to a quick start with the Crusaders, averaging 10.5 points and 7.8 rebounds in the first six games of the season. The school cited homesickness as the reason for Ladd's release.
"It became clear over the course of the semester that Mallory was struggling with being away from home," Valparaiso coach Keith Freeman said in a statement released by the school. "Mallory and her family feel that it is in her best interest to return home to Evansville. We appreciate the contributions that she has made to the team this season and wish her the best in her future endeavors."
The Evansville Memorial graduate told The Times earlier this season that she was thrilled with playing for the Crusaders and that while she missed home, she was eager to begin the next step of her basketball career.
"I needed to get away from Lincoln Avenue," Ladd said prior to the season opener against SIU-Edwardsville. "My middle school, high school and UE are all on the same street. I'm starting to feel a little homesick now, but my team is becoming my second family."
It appears that Ladd will be heading back to Lincoln Avenue and could play for the Purple Aces as early as the second semester of next season if she enrolls at Evansville in January. Both Freeman and Ladd were unavailable for comment on Saturday, but the freshman also released a statement through the school.
"I did my best for the last six months to try to take this next step in my life," Ladd said. "I have really loved it here at Valpo playing basketball. The coach and the team members are great. I'm just really struggling with the homesickness. I wish nothing but the best for this team."
Ladd's departure leaves the Crusaders with eight healthy bodies this season as Freeman's squad continues to battle injuries from Betsy Adams (knee), Maegan Callaway (back) and Stefanie Lang (back).