Why did Hailey Van Lith transfer to LSU? Exploring reasons why former Louisville PG left the program

Colorado v LSU

The reigning NCAA champion LSU Tigers gained a superstar in Hailey Van Lith this offseason. The transfer guard from Louisville has brought a new dynamic to Kim Mulkey’s dominant program.

Van Lith shines both on and off the court for LSU. Her addition has elevated the seventh-ranked Tigers’ already elite pedigree, as they continue steamrolling any opponent in their path during the 2023-24 campaign.

Van Lith took an unconventional path south, but the electrifying guard joined LSU’s star-studded roster, ready to make an impact.

Why did Hailey Van Lith transfer to LSU?

For Hailey Van Lith, transferring to LSU provided a new opportunity and the chance to compete for a championship, something she’s long strived for. But her journey to Baton Rouge extends beyond that.

Coming out of high school, Kim Mulkey recruited Van Lith to Baylor. The two immediately connected, with uncanny comparisons made between them that surprised even the LSU staff. Ultimately though, Van Lith chose Louisville over Baylor during recruiting. She starred for three seasons at Louisville, averaging 15.4 points, 2.5 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.

Yet some things are just meant to be. For Mulkey, that was getting the chance to someday coach the electrifying guard. When Van Lith entered the transfer portal last offseason, she had specific criteria for her next destination: She wanted to win at the highest level and continue developing her game.

LSU proved a perfect match. Van Lith spoke to the Tigers, South Carolina and Stanford among others during her re-recruiting, which randomly included a surprise visit to Baton Rouge that caught LSU staffers off guard. But the impromptu trip made an impression, as Van Lith committed to the Tigers with the opportunity to achieve something special under Mulkey.

What happened during Hailey Van Lith’s visit to LSU?

As a non-contact transfer, Hailey Van Lith controlled each step of her recruiting process. She knew her value and played by her own rules. Although LSU seemed the front-runner, the program often felt left guessing where it stood. Communication was intense at times, then would go silent, leaving the Tigers unsure if she would go elsewhere.

Ultimately, a surprise visit to Baton Rouge changed the trajectory. LSU knocked it out of the park hosting Van Lith on campus. The connection with Mulkey shined through from their past recruiting relationship. That sealed the deal, as Van Lith chose to bring her talents to the Tigers.

LSU assistant coach Gary Redus provided details to LSU Country about Van Lith’s pivotal visit to the Tigers’ campus.
“(Van Lith) decided out of nowhere to come on a visit,” Redus said. “We didn’t even know she was coming on a visit. She was like, ‘Hey, I’m gonna come up’ and we were like, okay, so we set it up really quick.
“It was a good visit. I think she saw the things she needed to see. I think she heard the things she needed to hear. She wanted to continue to push her player development forward. She wanted to be pushed. She wanted to get taken out of her comfort zone that she had found at her previous school and she wanted to win.
“She wanted to contend for a championship, and she felt like she could do that here. Ultimately she decided to come to LSU.”

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