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N.C. native Indya Nivar hopes to make impact on UNC women's basketball as a incoming transfer

UNC sophomore guard Indya Nivar (24) during the women’s basketball media day in Carmichael Arena on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023.

Two years ago, Courtney Banghart had to cut ties with Indya Nivar, but it wasn’t the end of their relationship. 

Nivar, an Apex native, was heavily recruited by the UNC women's basketball head coach in high school. However, the guard ultimately chose to play basketball at Stanford, where she spent her first year. 

Due to NCAA tampering rules, Banghart couldn't keep in touch with Nivar. But when she hit the transfer portal after just one year in California, North Carolina was the first school to contact her. 

“I recruited [Nivar and transfer Maria Gakdeng] the first time, so I have a pretty good sense of who they are, but then they left,” Banghart said. “So then you literally break up and you’re like, ‘Alright, see you never.’ And then here they are.”

Entering her sophomore season and first at UNC, Nivar hopes to make a big jump in production this year in a new environment that's closer to home.

Welcomed with open arms 

Out of high school, Nivar was one of the highest-ranked recruits in the 2022 class. After a year at Stanford —  where she said she didn’t grow enough — it was time for a change.

When she hit the portal, UNC was at the top of her list and she hoped the Tar Heels would give her a call.

Since coming to North Carolina, Nivar has been welcomed with open arms by the team and they are already pushing her. According to her, the approach to coaching at UNC is different from Stanford — Banghart is very intentional and sets goals for each practice — something that Nivar has embraced.

For Nivar, UNC provides her with everything she wants: the ability to grow, be around people she trusts and, in her words, return to the player she used to be.

“I hope, and I feel very confident that she will return to the kind of wide-open, aggressive style of play that she played for four years in high school,” Scott Campbell, Nivar’s high school coach said. “She was always the best kid on the floor.”

In high school, Nivar’s teammates referred to her as a ‘unicorn’. Campbell believed that to be true, stating that Nivar knew her strengths and had a unique ability to read the game. 

Nivar is a threat on both ends of the court, something that has led Banghart to previously describe her as "dynamic.” Her ability to shoot the three, attack off the dribble and guard the opponent’s top offensive player will add extra depth to an already deep Tar Heel squad. 

“She’s also a great defensive player as well,” senior forward Alyssa Ustby said. “That’s something that we’re really trying to amp up this year because we want to make it a lot harder for teams to score.”

Nivar said she wants to improve her shooting ability and earn the chance to play more — she logged just one start with Stanford.

‘Support system’

Nivar played high school basketball at Apex Friendship — just a 30-minute drive from Chapel Hill. Since returning to North Carolina, her friends and family have already gotten to see her practice at UNC.

No longer across the country, Nivar can now easily go home for a quick break whenever she needs to, something that she couldn't do last year.

“I just feel like having that right now, that support system so close, it’s already gonna be beneficial for me throughout the season,” Nivar said. “When times get tough, I can just go home for the day and reset and then come back ready to get back at it.”

Nivar also has the opportunity to go watch her sister, Jasmine, play high school basketball back at her alma mater.  

“Seeing familiar faces, people I used to go to school with, I think that was just pretty interesting and exciting,” Nivar said. “You know, [in North Carolina] people [are] always cheering for me and wanting to support me. I felt like that was a different feel than what I had at Stanford.”

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