clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UConn WBB Weekly: Checking in on former Huskies around the country

Plus plenty of coverage from Big East media day last week.

Mississippi State v Stanford: Greater Victoria Invitational Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images

Welcome to the UConn WBB Weekly, a recap of everything that happened in the world of UConn women’s basketball over the past week.

The Weekly is a newsletter! Subscribe to get it in your inbox every Thursday at 7 a.m. before it hits the site.

Top Links

From The UConn Blog and Storrs Central

Lots of stories this past week thanks to Big East media day. We’ve split it into two categories to make life easier.

News:

Coverage:

Last week’s Weekly:

Elsewhere


Checking in on former Huskies around the country

It’s been four years since UConn won a national championship — tied for the Huskies’ second-longest title drought since 1995. If we ranked the causes of the trophy-less streak, the Huskies’ heartbreaking, buzzer-beater losses in the 2017 and 2018 Final Fours stand out — especially consider they would’ve rolled to an easy victory had they advanced to either championship game.

But UConn’s 2017 recruiting class can’t be ignored, either. The Huskies brought in four players and four years later, none remain with the program.

Andra-Espinoza Hunter transferred out midway through her freshman year. Lexi Gordon departed after her third semester and Mikayla Coombs followed them out the door at the end of her sophomore year. Only one player — Megan Walker — actually made an impact on the court and even she declared for the WNBA Draft following her junior season.

If UConn got more of a contribution out of that class, would it have been enough to push the Huskies past Notre Dame in either national semifinal game? It probably wouldn’t have hurt, but we’ll never know.

Recruiting is an inexact science, which means even the greatest swing and miss sometimes — though Walker did become an All-American, so a bad class for UConn is still better than most other schools in the nation. It also helps that the three 2017 recruits are the only former Huskies playing in college basketball right, so the staff has hit on every class since then.

With that, let’s check in with each of those three players in addition to a former commit. We recapped each of their 2019-20 campaigns in March but now we’ll look ahead to their upcoming season:

Mikayla Coombs, Georgia

After sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Coombs will finally be eligible to suit up for the Bulldogs.

ESPN placed Coombs at No. 37 in their newcomer impact rankings:

Life after UConn extends beyond Elena Delle Donne’s unique case. Natalie Butler, Courtney Ekmark and Lexi Gordon are among those who found their best fit elsewhere. After sitting out last season, Coombs could be next in Georgia’s backcourt.

Andra Espinoza-Hunter, Mississippi State

After two years with Mississippi State, Espinoza-Hunter opted-out of this season over COVID-19 concerns. Though she will get an extra year of eligibility, it’s unclear if she’ll use it at Mississippi State or anywhere else.

Espinoza-Hunter appeared to be a player for the Bulldogs to build around during her first season in Starkville after recording 9.0 points per game and a 42.2 percent mark from beyond the arc. However, she disappointed as a junior as she dropped to 4.6 points per game and 26.2 percent from three.

Mississippi State v Stanford: Greater Victoria Invitational Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images

Lexi Gordon, Texas Tech

It’s been an eventful offseason for Gordon. In August, USA Today exposed a culture of “fear, anxiety and depression” under Marlene Stollings at Texas Tech. Gordon put her name in the transfer portal but decided to stay with the Red Raiders after the school dismissed Stollings and replaced her with Krista Gerlich.

Despite being a senior, this will only be Gordon’s second full season of college basketball. As a sophomore, she transferred from UConn at the end of the fall semester and subsequently couldn’t start playing for Texas Tech until after the fall semester concluded this past year due to NCAA transfer rules.

With a freshman and transfer heavy roster, the Red Raiders will rely on Gordon as a senior this season. Though she had high peaks last year (like a 31-point, 11-rebound night against UTSA), she often went through cold stretches. If Gordon can perform consistently, she could be one of the better players in the Big 12.

Charli Collier, Texas

Though she never officially played for UConn, Collier committed to the Huskies as a member of the 2018 class but eventually flipped to Texas to be close to home.

When the preseason watch lists begin to trickle out, Collier is a lock to find her name on plenty. She was one of the best centers in the country as a sophomore last year, earning All-Big 12 first team honors as well as a spot on the Lisa Leslie Award top-10 finalists list, given to the nation’s best center.

It’s likely that this will be Collier’s final season playing college basketball, though. She’s eligible to enter the 2021 WNBA Draft and is projected the No. 1 pick by Draftsite.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 17 Women’s West Virginia at Texas Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Best of social media

Geno Auriemma: aspiring Instagram influencer:

Funny moment from Big East media day:

Geno hosted the team at his house on Election Night. UConn’s nine eligible players all voted:

Quotables

What did Geno do to survive quarantine?

“I put a real dent in my wine cellar. I gotta tell you, I’m really proud of myself.”

Video

Incredible story from Creighton coach Jim Flanery during media day. In short: UConn’s return is already giving opposing coaches nightmares.