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Weekly Roundup: UConn women’s basketball’s recent transfer history

With the Huskies’ making Stanford grad transfer DiJonai Carrington’s final list, let’s take a look back at UConn’s recent transfers.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball has never been a transfer-heavy program. Since 2014, the Huskies have brought in just five players from the transfer pool and in Geno Auriemma’s entire tenure as head coach, that number is only around in the low-to-mid teens.

However, UConn has been more active on this front in the past two years. Last season, it added Evelyn Adebayo and Evina Westbrook from Murray State and Tennessee, respectively, and this offseason, the Huskies made the final three for Stanford grad transfer DiJonai Carrington. While Carrington is the first name to become public, Auriemma said at the start of the offseason that UConn was talking to “a couple kids” in the portal.

With that in mind, here is a look back at some of the Huskies’ recent transfer additions:

Natalie Butler

Butler became the Huskies’ first transfer addition since 2008 when she came to Storrs after winning the Big East Freshman of the Year Award at Georgetown in 2014. She sat out the next season and was eligible for the 2015-16 campaign but only played in 27 games after missing the early portion of the season with a thumb injury. Butler saw action in all but one game the year after but remained a bench player for the Huskies.

Across two seasons, she averaged 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game. Butler transferred to George Mason for her final season of eligibility where she completely dominated the A-10. She recorded a double-double in every game after the season opener (33 total, which tied the DI record), led the country with 16.6 rebounds per game, broke the DI record with 563 rebounds in a season, won the A-10 Player of the Year, earned AP All-American honorable mention honors and then got selected 30th overall in the WNBA Draft. She’s now playing professionally in Europe.

Azura Stevens

After defecting from Duke, Stevens came to UConn ahead of the 2016-17 season and sat out under NCAA transfer rules. Once she was eligible the next year, Stevens was the first player off the bench for a loaded Husky squad. Though it took her a little while to get going, Stevens found her groove by the postseason and won the AAC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.

In the Final Four that year, she helped lead UConn back from an early hole against Notre Dame and almost single-handedly carried the Huskies to victory. However, Auriemma controversially left Stevens on the bench to start the second half, creating one of the all-time “what ifs” in program history.

Soon after, Stevens shocked everyone — including the coaching staff — by declaring early for the WNBA Draft after just one season at UConn.

Batouly Camara

Camara initially choose Kentucky over UConn out of high school but changed her mind after one year in the Blue Grass State and transferred to Storrs, sitting out the 2016-17 season. When she became eligible to play, she suffered a knee injury in the preseason and missed the early part of the year which proved to be an omen for the rest of her career.

Over the next three seasons, Camara dealt with various injuries and ailments which prevented her from making an impact with the Huskies. Last year, she only saw action in 10 games and never played more than three minutes in any appearance. She is an active participant in campus life, as president of the student-athlete empowerment group Collective Uplift, and is completing her masters in the Neag School of Education this year.

Evelyn Adebayo

Adebayo came to UConn as the first grad transfer in program history last year with the hope that she would provide an experienced option to pair with Olivia Nelson-Ododa in the post. That never materialized, though, as Adebayo played in 22 games and totaled just 23 points.

Evina Westbrook

Westbrook sent shockwaves through the college basketball world when she traded her Tennessee orange for UConn blue last offseason. Though the Huskies hoped she’d be granted a waiver to play immediately, the NCAA rejected it, which led to both Auriemma and athletic director David Benedict publicly criticizing Tennessee for not supporting Westbrook’s move. She’ll be eligible to play once the 2020-21 campaign begins, whenever that is.

Carrington’s commitment timeframe

One final note to add about Carrington: She told an Oregon radio station that she’s taking her time with her decision, so don’t expect an announcement anytime soon. Listen to the full interview here.

Molly Bent brings home hardware

On Saturday night, UConn held its annual “Husky Awards” ceremony virtually to honor its student-athletes. Molly Bent was honored as the “Ultimate Husky”, which goes to an athlete who “actively shows support to fellow athletes, attends games and events of all sports and is committed to campus initiatives and community service.”

“Of course, it has to go to Molly Bent,” Auriemma said. “Who else could it be? Who else but Molly Bent exemplifies what you’d say the ultimate Husky has to exemplify? Who’s the hardest worker? Molly Bent. Who’s the most positive all the time? Molly Bent. Who has the most energy of anybody in the entire athletic department? Molly Bent. And who’s gotten the respect of her teammates and the fans and just athletes in general and staff and coaches and anybody she’s ever met? Molly Bent. So it’s no surprise and it’s no wonder given who she is and what she stands for that Molly is the ultimate Husky.”

Out of high school, Bent was receiving interest from Ivy League schools before UConn entered the picture. Though she would’ve gotten more playing time at a lower-level school, Bent jumped on the chance to play for Auriemma’s program.

“I came here to UConn because I wanted to play for Coach (Auriemma) and I wanted to play for the UConn women’s basketball program,” Bent said. “But it didn’t take me long to realize that what makes UConn what it is is the people.”

Making the rounds

I made a couple podcast appearances over the last week. First, I was part of a panel with the other UConn women’s basketball beat writers on the CT Scoreboard Podcast:

Then, 97.9 ESPN’s Bob Joyce had me on the Husky Bytes Podcast as well.

Other news this week

Geno Auriemma to give commencement speech at UConn’s virtual graduation ceremony

UConn women’s basketball in the mix for Stanford grad transfer DiJonai Carrington