Geno Auriemma's team is currently 19-0, are defending national champs, and, oh yeah, he has the best player in the country on his roster -- Breanna Stewart -- and she's just a sophomore. And while the Huskies will lose Bria Hartley and Stefanie Dolson to graduation after this season, there's absolutely no reason to think that Auriemma's team will be in rebuilding mode anytime soon.
Mostly because Stewart and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and point guard Moriah Jefferson will all return in 2014-15, but also because Auriemma will have four recruits coming to Storrs this summer. And one of them, Courtney Ekmark is already drawing comparisons to Kelly Faris, the glue that held last year's championship squad together.
Ekmark, a 6-foot guard from Phoenix, Ariz., skipped her senior year of high school to be home schooled and honing her game before joining the Huskies.
“You just wait and see,” Bret McCormick, the editor of the All Star Girls Basketball website, told the Hartford Courant's John Altavilla. “She is going to be one of Geno Auriemma’s favorite players. She reminds me so much of Kelly Faris, only with a better shot as a younger player. And she is working so hard on her athleticism, body and basketball skills. I love her as a player. She is going to be great at UConn.”
Ekmark, the Gatorade Player of the Year in Arizona last year, is doing everything to prepare herself for the jump to big-time college basketball.
“It’s going great,” Ekmark said. “I’ve been enjoying it; playing a lot of basketball, working out a lot. I’ve just been spending a ton of time working to improve my body. And it’s been a lot of fun and very satisfying so far.”
Part of that preparation includes playing against AAU boys' teams and in a men's league.
"The idea is to make everything about myself tighter, quicker, stronger and faster,” she said. “Playing exclusively with males is different, but to be honest to get used to it very quickly. You do have to adapt your game to make sure you play well against them. It’s really good, perfect for me at this point.
“People ask me all the time if I miss playing basketball. But I am playing it every day. I play more than I ever did in high school, but the only difference is that the competition is consistently good now.”
And in a few months, she'll take her talents to UConn, much to the chagrin of every other basketball program in the country with designs on competing for a national title.