Molly Bent was never supposed to come to UConn.
Despite being the star player at Tabor Academy in Marion, Mass., Bent only garnered interest from a few Ivy League schools along with a handful of lower-tier Division I programs. Bent herself thought it was impossible.
"I would never be able to go there," she told the Cape Cod Times in 2014.
In her mind, it was never about talent. She would just never have the opportunity to showcase it to the Husky staff. That changed when she caught the eye of one of the assistants at an AAU Tournament.
“I never thought the coaches would have a chance to watch me play,” she said. “But when [assistant coach Marisa Moseley] was at my game, she saw something in me.”
When Moseley reported back to head coach Geno Auriemma, he knew he needed her on his team. Because if he didn’t, he feared what may happen.
“If we don't, don't be surprised if we're in the Sweet 16 or the Final Eight and we're playing some mid-major and she's kicking our guys' butts," said Auriemma.
The Huskies have made their 10th straight Final Four and show no signs of letting up, but securing Bent will reduce the chances of a tournament upset down the road. As a kid who grew up watching UConn dominate the sport, Bent is eager to be part of such unprecedented dominance.
“It’s really exciting. I can’t wait,” she said. “It’s just going to be a lot of fun.”
While she has the chance to be a part of the history, Bent won’t make her mark this season. As a freshman, Bent saw limited playing time, usually appearing in blowouts, even with injuries to fellow guards Crystal Dangerfield and Kia Nurse.
Though she hasn’t been productive yet, Bent has already managed to do something few freshman have: Impress the head coach.
“One of the things that's obvious about Molly is how hard she wants to work to be a better basketball player,” Geno said. “Since September, I don’t think there’s been one day where she hasn’t been trying to get better.”
Auriemma is fine being patient with the development process in the interest of having a valuable piece for future title teams.
“She’s what we thought she would be. Some of the things she has to get better at are going to have to evolve over time,” he said. “She’s going to be a really good player. It’s just going to take time.”
If she sticks to the plan, Geno’s vision of Bent guiding a team through the NCAA Tournament might not be far off. But instead of leading the mid-major against Auriemma’s squad, she will be the one commanding it.