After choosing to move on from her commitment with Baylor, Bentonville’s Maryam Dauda could have played basketball at any school she wanted to across the country. But she chose Arkansas.
Dauda, who is ranked as the top-ranked center in the nation by ESPN, decided to decommit from Baylor after legendary coach Kim Mulkey left the program to become the head coach at LSU.
“(Mulkey) was one of the main reasons why I committed to Baylor. I actually never got a chance to see the Baylor campus, I just had a home visit with Coach Mulkey. The connection clicked right away,” said Dauda.
As hard as the decision was to make, Dauda decided that Baylor was no longer the best place for her to continue her basketball career. She wanted to play for a coach she clicked with like she did with Mulkey. And she found that just miles down the road from her home in Arkansas head coach Mike Neighbors.
“Coach Neighbors has been watching me since I was in eighth grade,” said Dauda. “He knows my game, he came to every single high school game that I had in Fayetteville… and I felt like that was one of the deciding factors. I know he knows what I’m capable of doing and he knows what I need to work on.”
In her initial recruitment, Dauda said she loved the idea of exploring the country, branching out and see what other places had to offer. But a second chance to play for her hometown team and in front of her friends and family was too good to pass up.
“It was all up to me. (My family) wanted me to pick where they knew I’d be happy. And after I made my decision about staying home, every body was so excited. My coaches were excited, my family was excited, my grandpa was really excited,” laughed Dauda. “It was a happy moment.”
Neighbors was the first coach to reach out to Dauda after she decomitted from Baylor. And while Arkansas felt like the perfect fit for Dauda, she is the perfect fit for them. She is joining a loaded recruiting class for the Razorbacks in 2021, joining Fort Smith’s Jersey Wolfenbarger, a fellow five-star recruit and Oregon State transfer and Fayetteville native Sasha Goforth.
“I’m excited about what Coach Neighbors is building up in Arkansas and keeping all the Arkansas top players in the state,” said Dauda. “I can’t wait to see what our team will be like and I know we will be chasing that ring – a national championship.”
Arkansas will also be getting back Elauna Eaton, a redshirt freshman from Helena, Arkansas. A five-star recruit out of high school as well, Eaton missed her entire freshman season after suffering an ACL injury.
At Bentonville, Dauda averaged 17.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game in her senior year. Her dream is to play in the WNBA, and it’s not a far off goal for one of the country’s best players. But if that does not work, Dauda wants to major in business with plans to open her own business someday.