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UConn WBB Weekly: Checking in on former Huskies in Europe

While UConn’s current team isn’t playing, plenty of its former players are beginning their respective seasons in Europe.

Photo via @CBAvenida on Twitter

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

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From The UConn Blog and Storrs Central:

Last week’s Weekly:

Elsewhere

In the news

Espinoza-Hunter commits to Seton Hall

Andra Espinoza-Hunter is headed to a new school once again. The former UConn player committed to Seton Hall for her final season of eligibility in 2021-22, meaning she will face the Huskies twice next year. Espinoza-Hunter came to Storrs as part of the Huskies’ highly-touted 2017 recruiting class but transferred midway through her freshmen year.

She ended up at Mississippi State, where she had a solid sophomore campaign before regressing as a junior. Espinoza-Hunter opted out of the 2020-21 season due to coronavirus concerns but maintained one final year of eligibility.

Espinoza-Hunter hails from Ossining, New York — the same hometown as current UConn forward Aubrey Griffin and former Husky Saniya Chong. However, Seton Hall is no stranger to Ossining grads either with current forward Kailah Harris and 2020 graduate Shadeen Samuels both from the town as well.

Other notes:

  • UConn’s 11 players passed their tests and returned the court to workout in pods on Saturday. The Huskies can’t hold a full-team practice until Dec. 8.
  • Additional testing revealed a second positive test within the program. However, that won’t affect the Huskies’ current timeline.
  • UConn’s game against Seton Hall is now set for Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. on SNY. It was previously scheduled for Dec. 6 but was postponed after the Huskies’ positive test.
  • Speaking of the schedule, UConn’s final game before the holiday break on Dec. 22 vs. Villanova will start at 7 p.m. on SNY. Though it hasn’t been officially announced, that’s the time listed on the Wildcats’ schedule.
  • Despite not playing, UConn remains at No. 3 in the AP Poll.

Checking in on former Huskies in Europe

Though UConn women’s basketball’s current team is sidelined due to a pair of positive COVID tests within the program, there are still plenty of former Huskies playing in Europe now. This week, we’ll check in and see how each player’s season is going so far.

Breanna Stewart — UMMC Ekaterinburg (Russia)

Stewart is part of one of Europe’s powerhouse teams that features fellow WNBA stars like Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley and Jonquel Jones. Unsurprisingly, UMMC is a perfect 6-0 on the young season and won its opening EuroLeague game 83-61 on Tuesday.

Coming off her second WNBA title and Finals MVP award, Stewart is averaging 19.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 4.0 assists in two regular season games. She had an off-day scoring-wise in the EuroLeague opener with just eight points but still totaled six rebounds, four assists and three steals.

This is Stewart’s second year with UMMC Ekaterinburg as she played five games with them last year as well.

Kiah Stokes — Fenerbahce (Turkey)

So far this season, Stokes has been a force on the boards. She’s averaging more rebounds (8.7) than points (8.2) per game and in the team’s first EuroLeague matchup, she recorded 12 rebounds to just two points.

However, with fellow WNBA players Kayla McBride, Satou Sabally and Jasmine Thomas alongside Stokes, she doesn’t need to do a whole lot of scoring. Fenerbahce is 10-0 in the regular season and took home a 77-70 victory in its first EuroLeague action.

Stokes has also seen action for the Turkish National Team after acquiring a Turkish passport in 2019.

Katie Lou Samuelson — CB Avenida (Spain)

Though Samuelson is still trying to find her footing in the WNBA, the former UConn sharpshooter is off to a strong start in Spain where she’s playing with her sister, Karlie, and fellow Husky Tiffany Hayes.

Samuelson leads CB Avenida with both 14.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while hitting 44.4 percent of her shots from 3-point range in league play. She had a quiet game in the EuroLeague opener, though, with just eight points and six boards.

Tiffany Hayes — CB Avenida (Spain)

Hayes is starting alongside Samuelson for the Salamanca side. Avenida is 13-0 in league play so far this season and trounced Nadezdha in its EuroLeague opener, 70-42, thanks in large part to 21 points from Hayes.

The former UConn point guard has been a key piece for her squad, averaging 12.2 points and 2.1 assists per game in the regular season.

Batouly Camara — CB Bembibre (Spain)

Staying in Spain, Camara started her professional career off strong with 19 points in an early exhibition game and has since settled in as a steady contributor with 8.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. She’s also been wildly successful off the court as she was recently named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for sports figures.

Camara will play Hayes and Samuelson on Dec. 5.

Megan Walker - Sopron Basket (Hungary)

After a tough rookie season with the New York Liberty, Walker is doing better across the pond. Through seven games, she’s averaging 14.9 points and 5.7 rebounds in 27.6 minutes per game. Walker’s EuroLeague debut didn’t go as well with just two points and three minutes in 13 minutes of action.

Still, Sopron is off to a 7-0 start this year and won its first EuroLeague game as well.

Gabby Williams - Sopron Basket (Hungary)

Williams is the second Husky on Sopron — making it one of just two teams in Europe with two former UConn players, along with CB Avenida. Williams continues to be a stat-stuffing machine, averaging 14.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. She also showed out in the EuroLeague with 19 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Kyla Irwin — Heidelberg (Germany)

After recovering from the fractured elbow she suffered in the AAC Tournament Semifinals, Irwin signed with Heidelberg in Germany to begin her professional career.

So far, she’s started all three games for her team and has averaged 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 41.7 percent from the floor.

Evelyn Adebayo — Alcobendas (Spain)

The last few months have been quite a whirlwind for Adebayo. She initially began her professional career with Phantoms Boom in Belgium but has since joined Alcobendas in Spain. However, it plays in in the league below Camara, Hayes and Samuelson.

Adebayo exploded for 19 points in the opener but quickly faded and lost her starting job after three games. Overall, she’s averaging 9.9 points and 4.7 rebounds in seven games so far this year.

However, Adebayo received her first call-up to the Great Britain national team recently after previously only playing with the U-20 team. She didn’t see any action in the squad’s only game against Poland, though.

Stef Dolson — Famila Schio (Italy)

Dolson typically heads to China — which plays a shorter season than the European leagues— for the WNBA offseason. However, the charismatic center decided to sign in Italy this year following a disappointing WNBA season. Dolson has yet to make an appearance for Famila Schio so far.

Napheesa Collier

Though Collier originally signed with Hatay in Turkey, she decided against playing in Europe this offseason.


Best of social media

While we don’t know much about this year’s UConn team on the court, they certainly don’t lack personality:

Gotta side with Paige here:

Napheesa Collier might have a claim to be the most underrated player in UConn history:

Camara’s reaction to her inclusion in the Forbes’ 30 Under 30:

14/10, a good pup:

Scoreboard

Friday, Nov. 27:

Ohio 86, No. 22 Notre Dame 85

Saturday, Nov. 28:

No. 13 Texas A&M 93, No. 19 DePaul 91
No. 1 South Carolina 81, South Dakota 71

Sunday, Nov. 29:

No. 1 South Carolina 79, No. 21 Gonzaga 72
Villanova 63, Quinnipiac 60
Marquette 90, North Dakota 82

Monday, Nov. 30:

No. 20 DePaul 128, Chicago 66

AP Poll

Top five:

  1. South Carolina (—)
  2. Stanford (—)
  3. UConn (—)
  4. Baylor (—)
  5. Louisville (—)

Other notes:

  • The entire top 10 remained the same.
  • DePaul dropped one place from No. 19 to No. 20.
  • Notre Dame fell out of the top 25 (previously No. 22).
  • Tennessee received one vote.