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UConn WBB Weekly: 2022 recruiting class coming into focus

Plus, the Huskies take a big step in their on-court progress and Maya Moore makes a major life announcement.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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.

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From The UConn Blog and Storrs Central:

Last week’s Weekly:


In The News

UConn finally in full-team workouts

When Geno Auriemma met with the media in mid-August, his team could only practice in pods — the groups of players that lived together. However, he hoped they could hold a full-team workout the week after. Though that timeline proved to be unrealistic, Hearst CT’s Doug Bonjour reported that the Huskies have finally moved out of pod-only practices.

Maya Moore marries Jonathan Irons

When Maya Moore stepped away from basketball, she did so to turn her full attention to the fight to the release of Jonathan Irons, a family friend who had been wrongfully convicted of burglary when he was 16. His sentence was eventually overturned and in July, Irons was released from prison.

But on Wednesday, Moore and Irons announced on GMA that they are married. The two originally met through a prison ministry program before Moore’s freshman year at UConn. Over time, the two became friends and developed a relationship. A few years ago, Irons asked Moore to marry him during a prison visit but told her “don’t answer right now,” since it was still unclear whether or not he’d ever be released.

After Irons’ release, the couple held a celebration in a hotel with some friends. As the party wound down, Moore and Irons were left alone in the room. That’s when Irons got down on a knee and asked her to marry him. This time, Moore was able to say yes.

The newlyweds spoke with Robin Roberts on Wednesday morning:

In the interview, Moore said she isn’t making any decisions on her basketball future now, but will likely decide that in the spring. A documentary about Irons’ story is also in the works with Roberts involved as well.

UConn making headway in class of 2022

Over the weekend, UConn made the top 12 for 2022 guard KK Bransford, the No. 9 player in the class according to ESPN. The Huskies were joined by Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Texas and UCLA on her list.

UConn’s interest in Bransford is nothing new, though. She visited Storrs in late February for practice and the Oregon game, so she was clearly on the Huskies’ radar back then.

But with its class of 2021 all but set (aside from one Azzi Fudd-sized domino still yet to fall), UConn is clearly turning its focus to 2022 prospects. So let’s take stock and look ahead at the program two years from now when the class of 2022 will arrive in Storrs.

As of now, UConn has four scholarships open for the class of 2022, but that could obviously change. Since 2012, the Huskies have brought in 27 players (excluding the 2020 class), seven of which left before their eligibility was exhausted, either by transfer or the WNBA draft. If that rate continues, UConn would lose 1-2 players over the next two seasons in addition to seniors.

While it’s unfair to speculate any transfers, it’s worth mentioning that both Evina Westbrook and Anna Makurat will be eligible to leave after their respective junior seasons for the WNBA Draft. What all this means is that the Huskies will have somewhere between 4-6 open scholarships (of 15 total) to use on the class of 2022.

However, Geno Auriemma has long lamented the number of scholarships available to women’s basketball and never uses his full allotment, the Huskies will add as many players as they feel fit the program, whether that means as little as one (like Saniya Chong in 2013) or as many as five (like this year) — history tells us UConn will probably add 2-3 more players to the class of 2022 alongside Isuneh Brady.

After the 2021-22 season, the Huskies are projected to lose Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Westbrook and Christyn Williams to graduation. With Aaliyah Edwards, Piath Gabriel, Amari DeBerry and Isuneh Brady all either on the team or committed, UConn has already set itself up to replace Nelson-Ododa in the post.

The Huskies have also stocked their future backcourt well with the likes of Makurat, Paige Bueckers, Nika Muhl, Caroline Ducharme and Saylor Poffenbarger to fill the void that Westbrook and Williams will leave. There’s also plenty of talent on the wing in Aubrey Griffin and Mir McLean.

That all means UConn’s roster is extremely well-balanced, both positionally and class-wise, for the future. There are no glaring holes which the Huskies will need to fill with the class of 2022 and instead can use it to augment what projects to be an already-strong roster with as much talent as the coaching staff can commit.

Daniel Connolly

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