Christyn Williams comes to UConn as the top recruit in the 2018 class, and the reigning National Gatorade Player of the Year. With high school accolades comparable to those of Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Katie Lou Samuelson, Williams has big shoes to fill as a Husky.
With a lot of question marks currently in UConn’s lineup, Williams is already stepping up to the challenge. In the first week of practices, she has impressed her teammates on the court. At AAC media day, Samuelson had high praise for the freshman.
“I think Christyn has stepped up in a big way for us,” Samuelson said. “She’s in a unique position where she kind of fits in with our group that we have out there. You know, losing that two guard in Kia [Nurse], she can step in there and she plays well with us.”
Replacing Nurse, who averaged 13.5 points and 2.8 assists per game last season in addition to being an excellent defender, is certainly far from easy for a freshman. But fellow guard Crystal Dangerfield likes what she sees so far from Williams.
“Playing with Christyn is great,” Dangerfield said. “As another guard, she can take care of the ball just as well as I can, so I can play off the ball.”
Dangerfield also noted that the pace is definitely faster when Williams is on the court.
“We get up and down the floor, and I think that’s just going to be the trend for our team the entire year: to get up and down the floor as quick as we can,” Dangerfield said.
The Huskies already play at a quick pace with Dangerfield at the point. Last season, they averaged 72.5 possessions per 40 minutes, which ranked in the top 25 percent. With both Dangerfield and Williams pushing the pace, it will be even harder for their opponents to keep up.
Williams’ positive impression has extended beyond her teammates. Even head coach Geno Auriemma, who is often quick to criticize his freshman, seems impressed with her performance so far.
“Christyn Williams has come in as a freshman and kind of not acted like one,” Auriemma said. “She doesn’t have the mindset of a freshman”.
The confidence the freshman has exhibited in the first week of practice was another hot topic for Auriemma. When he asked for five players in blue to step out at practice, Williams was one of them.
“She’s supremely talented and she’s supremely confident,” Auriemma said. “[Williams] has an aggressive mentality.”
The freshman exuded from confidence from the start. Earlier this summer, she boasted how confident she was that UConn would win it all this year.
“We’re going to get that championship,” Williams said back in June. “People are going to feel UConn. We’re going to win a national championship.”
When asked about it at AAC media day, Auriemma said Williams apologized to him for the comment about a week later via text, to which he replied, “I’m glad you said it, because now you have to live up to it.”