Jinaya Houston.jpg

Jinaya Houston

Jinaya Houston, one of two scholarship freshmen on the Iowa women’s basketball team, is taking a leave of absence from the Hawkeye program.

Coach Lisa Bluder announced in a statement Friday that the 6-foot-1 guard from Davenport North is stepping away from the sport to deal with personal and health issues.

“We feel it is best for Jinaya to spend some time away from the court in order to focus on some personal and health-related issues,’’ Bluder said. “She will remain at Iowa for the time being. Jinaya’s health and well-being is our primary concern.’’

Houston was expected to see playing time this season for the Hawkeyes after earning first-team Class 5A all-state honors last season. She averaged 18 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.4 steals per game as a senior.

Last spring, Bluder described Houston as “a really nice player,’’ adding, “She’s going to do well for us.’’

With Houston’s absence, the only other scholarship freshman on the Iowa roster is Paula Valino Ramos, a 6-3 post player from Spain. Zion Sanders, a 5-8 guard from Evansville, Indiana, also joined the program this fall as a walk-on.

Iowa returns three starting backcourt players, Tania Davis, Kathleen Doyle and Makenzie Meyer, from last season's 20-14 team.