Azzi Fudd knows what she wants. When asked what she hopes to accomplish at UConn, she bypassed the platitudes and humility, echoing the likes of Breanna Stewart and Paige Bueckers.
“My goals are to win four championships,” she said. “That’s about it.”
For that to happen, UConn will need to snap a five-year title drought and win this season. Fudd knows she can’t do it all on her own and understands the climb to a national championship begins with summer workouts. During the month this year’s team was together on campus, the freshman liked what she saw.
“Obviously, it’s just summer but I think just our chemistry and all of our competitiveness — like all the skill in the gym — I think we’re pretty good so far,” Fudd said. “You kind of just see it throughout playing. Like, even today we played and there were just certain possessions where it was kind of like ‘That was really nice,’ just the ball movement we have. Everyone’s unselfish with each other.”
While the adjustment from high school to college — especially at a program like UConn — can be difficult for many players, Fudd discovered that the higher level of play helped take the pressure off of her. In high school, everything revolved around her. When her team needed a basket, she had to score it.
While Fudd might be the No. 1 recruit in the nation, this roster won’t be counting on her. At this point in the calendar, there are still plenty of players above her in the pecking order which means the weight of the entire offense isn’t on her shoulders.
“There’s no pressure at all — well, yes, there’s pressure — but when it comes to playing, everyone can do basically anything. So if you don’t have a shot, the next person does,” Fudd said.
It’s a nice change of pace for the freshman.
“I love it. The first couple of times we worked out it was kind of a shock,” she said. “Anyone you pass it to they’ll make a shot, they’ll be able to make a play, get an open look for someone else and it’s so much fun. I’ve loved every time we play.”
All that has resulted in a mostly positive first month for Fudd in Storrs. She’s been able to acclimate to the program, get to know her teammates, and adjust to college life in that time. Most importantly Fudd is still yet to get on Auriemma’s bad side.
“I love him,” she said about her coach. “So far I have not gotten yelled at — yet.”
That may have less to do with Fudd and more to do with Auriemma. At least, that’s what the coach believes.
“I’ve grown. It used to only be three weeks (before players started to get mad at him),” he joked. “Now I got it up to five or six.”
The only negative is that Fudd got injured at some point during the summer session — according to Christyn Williams, at least — which limited her activity and probably factored into the lack of yelling by Auriemma.
For now, the injury appears to only be a minor setback for Fudd. Auriemma often likens summer workouts to a mini-camp, implying that the real work doesn’t begin until the team returns for the fall semester in August.
Until then, the Huskies will need to wait to get the full Azzi Fudd Experience that everyone’s been waiting for. But even though Fudd didn’t spend a ton of time on the court, everyone can agree on one thing: The freshman is a special talent.
“Her footwork is the kind of footwork that you would expect from someone going into the pros, someone who has spent three or four years perfecting that,” Auriemma said in June. “That’s how good her footwork is.”
“Her ability to to get shots off and the way the shot comes off every single time, the exact same way, I mean I knew it, but when you watch it on a regular basis, it’s pretty amazing,” he added later.
“She’s gonna be good,” Williams declared.