Geno Auriemma and UConn will have some of the top recruits in women's basketball coming to Storrs for the next two years.
The 2010-2011 season ended for the UConn women's basketball team lost with a loss to Notre Dame in the Final Four. That also meant the Huskies would be losing the best player in the country, Maya Moore, to graduation and the WNBA. But unlike the men's team, which is now without Kemba Walker and only has one incoming recruit for the 2011-2012 season, the women are going to be loaded.
According to ESPN, UConn's recruiting class ranks second behind Tennessee and includes 6-0 sharpshooter Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (the 2011 class' top-ranked player), 5-9 guard Brianna Banks and 6-3 forward/center Kiah Stokes.
And a year from now, when the Huskies will lose guards Tiffany Hayes and Caroline Doty to graduation, the incoming class will again be one of the best in the nation. Which brings us to Moriah Jefferson, the second-ranked prospect in the 2012 class, who has verbally committed to UConn. She joins center Breanna Stewart -- the No. 1 player in her class -- and Morgan Tuck, the No. 12 player, as the other Huskies commitments.
Jefferson visited Storrs twice before announcing her plans to play for the Huskies. The first time to take in the UConn-Australia exhibition game, and then, along with some other recruits, for "First Night" in October.
“They are a hard working team,” Jefferson told the New Haven Register. “I got really close with all the players there. Breanna (Stewart), Kaleena (Mosqueda-Lewis) we all have a close bond. When I went on my visit the coaching staff was really nice so that kind of attracted me.”
Jefferson is from Texas and before she committed to the Huskies, coach Geno Auriemma had never signed a player from the Lone Star State. Which is why Auriemma asked Jefferson if she was seriously considering UConn during the recruiting process. Jefferson's mother, however, wasn't surprised by the decision.
“Once we sat down and talked, I said ‘are they on your list?’” Robin Jefferson said, according to the Register. “She said ‘yes.’ I asked her where and she said ‘high up.’ … Bonding with Breanna Stewart and Kaleena Lewis, not talking basketball, just talking together and bonding with them, she realized what she wanted to do. I am happy for her because Moriah is a child who likes to be pushed. Geno is going to get to her and she is up to the challenge, it is her makeup.”
Two recruiting cycles could land UConn six of the best players in the country. It's a testament to Auriemma and his staff and the program they have built, but it also speaks to one of the major differences between the men's and women's game: women don't leave early for the WNBA. That provides top programs like UConn with more stability, less turnover, and ultimately, more consistency from one year to the next. It also makes Storrs an attractive option for recruits. Seeing those seven national championship banners doesn't hurt, either.