UConn freshman Saniya Chong.
Geno Auriemma's defending national championship team will officially begin the long journey to defending their title in two weeks. They'll have to do it without the heart and soul of last year's group, Kelly Faris, who is now in the WNBA, but this team is so stacked, so deep that it might not even matter. And this is the case even with one scholarship player in the 2013 class: Saniya Chong.
Not surprisingly, Chong arrives in Storrs as one of the country's best high school players. For now, though, she's just adjusting to the transition that comes with the move to big-time college basketball. And just like Faris, who was also the only member of her recruit in class, Chong won't have other freshmen to lean on as she goes through this process.
“But I don’t feel like that at all when I am on the court,” Chong said, via the Hartford Courant. “My teammates are taking care of me. The basketball part of it has been fine.”
But Chong says she's never really alone because of the tattoo on the inside of her left wrist that reads, "1985-2006." It's for her brother, Andrew, who suffered from an enlarged heart before taking his life at the age of 20.
“I see it every day," Chong said via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. "So it’s always like a remembrance right there. He is always there cheering me on. Every time I know I have this tattoo for him, he’s always there everywhere I go and looking out for me.
“That was the very first thing I thought when I first got the tattoo. I was always dreaming of getting a tattoo, but that was my very first one and I knew I had to get it. I didn’t want something too big because it’s not really good to have it on the court. So I just wanted something really small, but always know that I can always see it.”
Teammate Bria Hartley expects Chong to fit in just fine at UConn.
“Saniya’s still only a freshman and has a lot to learn,” the senior guard said. “But I think she’s going to be a really good player for us. She’s quick. She’s good getting into the lane. She’ll add another dimension. We’re mostly a catch-and-shoot 3-point shooting team, but she’s one who can get into the lane and create.”