UConn will be loaded next season too
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.”