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UConn WBB Weekly: Nika Mühl and Dorka Juhász’s friendship predates time at UConn

If Juhász had it her way initially, the two would’ve played together at Ohio State, not UConn.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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Nika Mühl and Dorka Juhász’s friendship predates UConn

As Nika Mühl went through the recruiting process, she narrowed down her decision to five schools: UConn, Louisville, Oregon, Ohio State and USF. When she made that list public in the spring of 2019, a freshmen on the Buckeyes reached out: Dorka Juhász.

“I remember recruiting her to come to Ohio State when I was at Ohio State,” Juhász said of Mühl. “I was like, ‘Hey, come play with me.’”

Ultimately, Mühl chose UConn and even though Juhász was disappointed, she understood why.

“I was like, congrats. Obviously that’s a great decision,” Juhász said.

Two years later, Juhász graduated from Ohio State in three years and decided to enter the transfer portal. Once Mühl caught wind, she started doing the recruiting.

“Everything turned around and then she was like, ‘Alright, I want to play with you,’” Juhász relayed.

They missed out on the chance to play with each other once but didn’t let the second opportunity pass by. Juhász committed to UConn in April and finally, the longtime friends became teammates. Throughout the season, the two have talked about their unique connection as “fellow Europeans,” as they put it.

They use the phrase jokingly — said Juhász of Mühl in February: “She has some a European, I can really appreciate that,” — but there is some truth behind it as well. The nature of the basketball system in Europe is different as both Juhász and Mühl played in professional leagues before coming to the US instead of a high school setup like UConn’s North American players. The game is also different on the other side of the Atlantic, which creates a natural on-court chemistry between Juhász and Mühl.

“It’s amazing to play with Dorka,” Mühl said. “Just the fact that she’s from Europe, she knows my style of play, I know her style of play. It’s very similar. She knows the energy. It’s good to have a European on the team.”

While the two are from different countries, Mühl’s hometown of Zagreb, Croatia is only about three and a half hours from Juhász’s hometown of Pecs, Hungary. For reference, that’s roughly the same distance from Milton, Massachusetts — where Caroline Ducharme grew up — to Ossining, New York — where Aubrey Griffin hails from.

That proximity is how the two first met.

“We have known each other for a while now,” Mühl explained. “We never played against each other in the European Championships because she’s older than me, but we knew each other. Just close countries, players.”

While Juhász participated in Senior Day, the two might get to play with each other for another year. On Monday, Geno Auriemma revealed to the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce that Juhász told him she will return for her final year of eligibility next year. UConn quickly clarified that Juhász has not officially made her decision, but all signs seem to be pointing towards the forward coming back.

If that’s the case, Juhász and Mühl will get two seasons together. Had Mühl picked Ohio State over the Huskies, they would’ve only spent the COVID-affected 2020-21 campaign as teammates.

In the end, it all worked out.

“It’s great playing with her, for sure,” Mühl said. “It’s good to have her here.”

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