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UConn WBB Weekly: How the Huskies’ roster stands out from the rest of the nation

In the age of the transfer portal, the Huskies will be unicorns this season.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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How UConn’s roster stands out from the rest of the nation

In an age where player movement is more common than ever, UConn will be a unicorn in 2022-23. This offseason, the Huskies didn’t have a single player enter the transfer portal and they didn’t add anyone out of it, either. All 14 members of the roster joined as freshmen and have stayed ever since.

So how rare is that in today’s game? According to WBB Blog, 325 of the 355 Division I programs lost at least one player to the transfer portal since August 2022 — a whopping 91.5 percent of teams. Meanwhile, 255 teams (71.8 percent) have added at least a single transfer in that same timeframe.

UConn is one of just seven Division I programs have not lost or added a single transfer during this cycle — a group represents just 1.9 percent of the entire country. Of the six major conferences (Big East, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC), only Creighton has sat on the sidelines along with the Huskies. The other five? Campbell, Maine, Milwaukee, Presbyterian and South Dakota State.

There’s still time for that to change, too. While UConn is unlikely to add anyone from the portal — the team reports for summer workouts in less than a week — most of the others are low-majors and could find someone of value.

Even though the Huskies are typically transfer-averse, they’ve rarely been completely uninvolved since the portal first opened in October 2018. The only other time they didn’t lose or add a single player involving the portal was 2019-20.

UConn staying out of the transfer market shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The Huskies only have one scholarship available and while they could’ve used an experienced big to play alongside Aaliyah Edwards — another Dorka Juhász type, essentially — they have no shortage of options between Amari DeBerry, Ayanna Patterson, Ice Brady and Jana El Alfy. At least one of them should be good enough to contribute.

The team is also generally wary of non-grad transfers, meaning players who leave prior to graduating at their current school — like Juhász and Lou Lopez Sénéchal. For underclassmen, Geno Auriemma won’t have interest unless he believes they have a good reason to leave — with Evina Westbrook being the perfect example.

“Every time that we’re in this situation, I always ask the kid, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ That’s my first question whenever a kid wants to transfer (to UConn),” he said in 2021. “I say, ‘What’s wrong with you? You’re at a great place, you’re starting, you’re playing a lot of minutes. You seem to be really successful. So there’s got to be something wrong with you.’ And then when they answer me, if I like their answer, then I go forward. If I don’t like their answer, then I say I’m not interested.”

Whether or not that’s the right approach in this day and age is another conversation — Auriemma has long said he’s most proud of his program’s culture, and that strategy helps uphold the culture — but it helps explain why the Huskies don’t have any transfers coming in.

On the flip side, it’s impressive UConn didn’t lose any players to the portal. The Huskies backcourt should be stacked with freshmen KK Arnold and Ashlynn Shade joining a group headlined by Paige Bueckers, Azzi Fudd and Nika Mühl. In the frontcourt, everyone other than Edwards, Juhász and Aubrey Griffin struggled to carve out consistent playing time. It wouldn’t have been that much of a surprise if someone left in search of more playing time or a bigger role.

Instead, the Huskies brought all 11 players back and added three freshmen to complete their 2022-23 roster. In a sport where teams increasingly rely on transfers to succeed — just look at LSU, South Carolina or Indiana to name just a few — UConn stands apart from the rest.

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