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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Curtis Ekmark talks about his daughter's commitment to UConn

I just got off the phone with Curtis Ekmark, who is not only the father but also the high school and AAU coach of UConn commit Courtney Ekmark.

Curtis Ekmark is an accomplished coach in his own right as he guided his St. Mary's out of Phoenix to the No. 1 ranking in the national high school polls and earned some national high school coach of the year honors. He said that the long holiday weekend enabled Courtney to talk to him and his wife about her decision and Courtney called UConn coach Geno Auriemma Monday night to commit.

"She was fortunate to be a little ahead of most kids in the process because we have had so many kids form St. Mary's go through the process she was pretty familiar with the process and different schools and coaching staffs," Curtis Ekmark said. "She was able to accelerate it more than most kids probably.

"She kind of got pushed to the back of the line because I've got six juniors that I am trying to get squared away so I have been spending a lot of time meeting with them and meeting with their families getting their recruiting situated. I finally got around to sitting down with Courtney and we had a good long talk. We wanted to make it a good life lesson for her in terms of how to make an important decision so we wanted to make sure established her priorities and then gather all the facts to analyze the decision."

When I spoke to Courtney, a 6-foot sophomore guard who is also the No. 1 ranked student in her class at St. Mary's with a 4.0 GPA, during the U-17 team trials she said she would like to commit "sooner rather than later." She was in the stands at the XL Center when UConn played Notre Dame in the 2011-12 regular-season finale and spoke about what she was most impressed with about the way UConn runs its program.

"They are cool because they just recruit the best players and if you come, you come and if you don't, you don't come but it would just be a challenge to go there. I feel like I would like the challenge. Some other people would too. It is definitely similar to our, I see many similarities between my high school and them."

Curtis Ekmark also talked about what drew his daughter to UConn.

"I think that is what attracts those type of kids to UConn, they want to be pushed and they want to be the best and I think that was attractive to her," Curtis Ekmark said. "Obviously on a much more scaled down level she thought it was similar yo the program we have in high school. We have eight Division I kids and the practices are very competitive, you get to practice with a lot of good kids and you get to win a lot of games. I think she looked to take that to the next level in college."

Although Courtney did not make the U-17 squad, the reports I saw stated that she had a strong showing particularly shooting the ball.

After the morning session I spoke to U.S. U-17 head coach Jill Rankin Schneider to get her impressions on Ekmark.

"She is a really nice shooter," Schneider said. "I think she was in our trials last year too and really a sweet perimeter shooter and has developed her game in terms of ballhandling."

I posed the same question to Curtis Ekmark.

"I feel a little funny because she is my daughter," Ekmark said. "I don't want to be the crazy parent but the nice thing a bout Courtney is she always comes up big in big games. There's no drama and when you are a coach's kid, that is kind of a given. She has a high basketball IQ, she is very skilled and you always know she is going to compete every day both in practice and in games and she has a knack of coming up big when we really need her."

I asked Curtis if he'd be up for agreeing to play in the HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Mass., something other top UConn commits have taken part in.

"We'd love to do that, we haven't talked to anybody about that," Ekmark said.

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