Auriemma Speaks Highly of 2012 Class


You know what Geno Auriemma's Huskies need? Yep, that's right: more talent. The 2011 recruiting class was ranked as one of the two best in the country, and it looks like Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis has the makings of UConn's next great player.

It would be reasonable to expect the Huskies (or any team for that matter) to take a step back this season after losing Maya Moore to graduation. Instead, they're the preseason No. 4 team in the nation and that may be too low.

Auriemma might be less confident about that, at least publicly. He said last month that he's uninterested in making predictions about this year's squad, though we can ask him again in February or March. Whatever happens in 2011-2012, the Huskies, inexplicably, could be even more talented next season. The team's three 2012 commitments have now signed their letters of intent, making their impending arrival in Storrs next summer official. The three -- guard Moriah Jefferson, forward Morgan Tuck, center Breanna Stewart -- are among the nation's best high school players.

"Each year, when you reach signing day, you are looking at the future, or the next four years, to a certain extent," Auriemma said, according to the Hartford Courant. "Each year that the letters come in it's kind of like a down payment in your bank account towards the future.

"Some years [the class] is significant, some years it's just OK. This year what we are going to have, at least potentially, is one of the best groups we've had here in a long, long, long time. "You can never tell what a group will do once it gets to college, but I think these three, at least two of them [Tuck and Stewart], have played enough USA Basketball and are mature enough to understand what it's like to play with great players.

"These three are going to be the difference going forward. What we have already is significant, but adding these kids will be what puts us back into the category where we can win a national championship."

That's lofty praise for a guy who doesn't pass out compliments willy-nilly.

Stewart, the 6-4 center from Syracuse, New York, is a grizzled international veteran at the ripe old age of 17. She's competed for the US national team and was only the second  high school player to compete on the US Pan-American team.

"She has something a lot of kids don't have," Auriemma said, via the Courant. "She has an incredible competitive spirit about her. She is one of the greatest competitors I have ever seen. "Maya Moore was a competitor. Diana Taurasi and Jen Rizzotti were competitors. Swin Cash was a competitor. We've had a ton of them here. This kid is in the mold of the best competitors we've ever had at UConn in how hard she plays, how great she wants to be, how much she wants to impact the game. And she's just a young kid who is learning.

"Based on her high school career, she's as good as any recruit we've ever had at UConn."

Wow. And it's not like UConn is a team of perpetual losers looking for that one player to turn the program around. They have those show up every year. And Stewart very well could be the best of the bunch.

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