Sydney Moss dealt the Gators a painful blow when she announced on Tuesday that she would not be returning to the Florida women’s basketball program next season.

Moss is one of three UF players — along with Chandler Cooper and Vicky McIntyre — to leave the program this offseason.

Understandably, Amanda Butler and her coaching staff hoped to hold onto their star player. Sources told the Alligator that Butler and her staff flew to West Virginia earlier this month hoping to convince Moss to reconsider her decision to leave the program. Moss urged the group not to make the flight and did not change her mind.

Both Moss and McIntyre confirmed their decisions to leave the Gators basketball program on Tuesday.

In her only season with the Gators, Moss was second on the team in scoring, averaging 11.8 points per game. She overcame a midseason slump to carry the Gators to the Final Four of the WNIT and showed a level of poise that made her a strong candidate to develop into an All-Southeastern Conference caliber player as a sophomore next season.

“Sydney wants to be close to her mom and home. We wish her, Chandler and Vicky the best,” coach Amanda Butler said.

Moss figures to be the biggest loss of the offseason. Her greatest strength is the ability to fill up a box score. Often the team’s best offensive threat, she managed to add 6.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per contest during the season.

Moss was named to the 2013 All-SEC Freshman Team and the 2013 postseason WNIT All-Tournament Team for her performance.

McIntyre, a 6-foot-7 center, would have been a senior in 2013-14. She played just one season at UF after transferring from Oklahoma State, where she spent her first two collegiate seasons.

In 2011, two coaches on staff at Oklahoma State were killed in a plane crash while traveling on a recruiting trip. After the season, McIntyre chose to look for a fresh start and ended up at Florida, where she averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds while playing in 29 games, including three starts. However, McIntyre did not play in any of Florida’s postseason games.

Neither she nor Butler offered any reasoning for her absence at the time, and McIntyre’s decision to leave the program was somewhat expected.

Earlier this month, Cooper confirmed her intention to transfer from Florida to Lipscomb University. Cooper explained the decision as an opportunity to be closer to home — she is from Clarksville, Tenn. — while also playing basketball in a smaller environment.

However, Cooper cited several other factors that weighed into her decision, including a level of dissension within the program, especially among some of the team’s younger players and the coaching staff.

The three departures come in stark contrast to the direction the program was seemingly headed.

After a disappointing regular season in 2012-13, Florida’s run in the WNIT offered hope heading into next season. Moss was projected to continue developing into an All-SEC caliber player. She would have been joined by transfers Cassie Peoples and Antoinette Bannister — each a highly rated prospect coming out of high school — as well as freshman Ronni Williams, a McDonald’s High School All-American who has the potential to become Florida’s most talented player in school history.

Those four, along with the expected return of Viktorija Dimaite, — who has missed the past two seasons due to injury — and losing only one player, Jennifer George, to graduation, had expectations surrounding the program as high as they have been in some time.

Contact Phil Heilman at [email protected].

Editor’s note: This story was edited and re-published for the Welcome Back Edition of the Alligator on August 21.