UConn will be loaded next sea­son too

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pat Ea­ton-Robb

storrs, conn.» Me­gan Walker is not your av­er­age UConn bas­ket­ball fan.

The 6-foot-1 con­sen­sus na­tional high school player of the year from Ch­ester­field, Va., says she will be root­ing hard for the pow­er­house Huskies in the women’s NCAA Tour­na­ment, while think­ing about what it will be like to be play­ing with them next March.

“I’m part of the team now,” Walker said after pick­ing up her Ga­torade na­tional player of the year award Wed­nes­day night. “I’m wear­ing my hood­ies, shirts. I’m post­ing stuff — tweets. I’m ex­cited.”

UConn, which plays Al­bany on Satur­day, en­ters the NCAA Tour­na­ment at 32-0, on an un­prece­dented 107game win­ning streak, as the over­all No. 1 seed and fa­vored to win a fifth straight na­tional cham­pi­onship.

The Huskies ex­pect to have an even more tal­ented team next sea­son.

Se­nior point guard Saniya Chong is UConn’s only de­part­ing player who re­ceives sig­nif­i­cant min­utes.

The Huskies will wel­come two high-pro­file trans­fers — Azura Stevens, a 6-6 cen­ter from Duke, and 6-2 wing Ba­touly Ca­mara from Ken­tucky. Each is sit­ting out this sea­son.

Walker, who re­cently made the win­ning shot while lead­ing her high school team to a third con­sec­u­tive Class 4A state ti­tle in Vir­ginia, is the big­gest name in a four-mem­ber re­cruit­ing class ranked as one of the best in the na­tion.

The class in­cludes 5-10 guard An­dra Espinoza­Walker from New York, 6foot wing Lexi Gordon from Texas and 5-10 guard Mikayla Coombs from Ge­or­gia.

“They’re great kids, great team­mates, and come from great fam­i­lies,” coach Geno Auriemma said. “They’re ex­actly the kind of kids that we tend to get here, and we’re re­ally happy to have them be a part of the UConn bas­ket­ball fam­ily.”

Walker, who av­er­aged 26 points and eight re­bounds as a se­nior, said she and her class­mates un­der­stand they prob­a­bly would put up big­ger num­bers in an­other pro­gram. Walker said she knew she was com­ing to UConn after mak­ing an of­fi­cial visit and meet­ing the Huskies. Ev­ery­one played hard and could play mul­ti­ple po­si­tions, she said.

“UConn re­cruits a dif­fer­ent type of player. Ev­ery­one’s mind-set is fo­cused to­ward the same thing,” she said. “It def­i­nitely felt like I was look­ing in the mir­ror, and it made me feel even more like I be­long there.”

Walker is the eighth UConn-bound player to win the Ga­torade na­tional award, join­ing play­ers such as Maya Moore, Bre­anna Ste­wart and cur­rent star Katie Lou Sa­muel­son.

If UConn man­ages to win its 12th na­tional ti­tle this spring, Walker will join a team on a 113-game win­ning streak — and a fan base with great ex­pec­ta­tions.

“Of course there’s a lit­tle bit of pres­sure, but you can only live up to it,” Walker said. “You put your­self in this po­si­tion to be part of some­thing spe­cial. And, I want to con­trib­ute to the win­ning streak.”

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