Photo by Piper Hansen / UAA

The Florida Gators women’s basketball team have begun to hit their stride. The team has won their last three games, including one against a very good Texas Tech team. Florida has also earned their last two wins despite missing the SEC leading scorer, Funda Nakkasoglu to an ankle injury.

On Sunday, another key piece to head coach Cameron Newbauer‘s rebuild will join the lineup. Redshirt-sophomore Danielle Rainey will don the Orange and Blue in a game for the first time since announcing her transfer nearly a year ago.

Rainey was one of the top guards in the 2016 recruiting class and signed to play at Texas Christian University, which had signed a surprisingly strong recruiting class. Rainey said that being close to her mother played a major role in her choosing the Horned Frogs.

As a freshman at TCU, Rainey played in eleven games, all of which coming off the bench. Despite her limited playing time, Rainey did her best to make the most of her opportunities. In a December 2016 contest against Alcorn State, Rainey scored seven points in just fifteen minutes.

Rainey didn’t play the fall semester of her sophomore campaign, and ultimately decided to transfer. Transferring to another Division-I program would require she sit out a full year.

When talking with the coaching staff at Florida during the transfer process, Rainey stated that she appreciated “the transparency. The coaches here were very open, honest, energetic, and it was very genuine.” She also made comparisons to her recruitment out of high school, “When you’ve gone through a process (like this) more than one time, you start to see the red flags, but being around these coaches was just a different type of vibe.”

Upon making the transition to the University of Florida, Rainey relied on her teammates as a whole on acclimating to the new campus. She confided that she would ask different teammates different questions and that everyone helped her to feel comfortable at UF.

When asked to describe her style of play for Florida fans that haven’t seen her play yet, stated simply, “I’m the type of player that can give you what you need, whether it’s offensively or defensively. I do what I’m told, no matter how uncomfortable it is.”

Rainey is extremely excited about the opportunity to wear the Orange and Blue and emphasized that she has a new perspective on the game. “Sitting out a year takes a toll on you mentally. But it also makes you value everything more. Things like practice, weights, film, everything.”

Rainey got emotional describing her excitement to finally suit up with her teammates. “If I could cry right now I would, that’s how excited I am. It’s a blessing for me.

“It’s been a long time coming. I’ve never imagined myself in this type of situation and thanks to my coaches and teammates, I have a whole new level of confidence now.”

Rainey is expected to see the court on Sunday while wearing that Florida uniform. The Gators will face Ohio State before heading to Las Vegas to compete in the Duel in the Desert on December 20-21. Rainey’s first action in front of the Gator Nation is set for December 30, when the Gators will host Charleston Southern.

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