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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Rebounding is name of UConn recruiting target's game

One look at Linnae Harper and the description of "rebounder extraordinaire" is certainly not the first thing to come to mind.

Standing 5-7 and with speed to burn it would be easy to assume that the UConn recruiting target does most of her damage away from the basket. However anybody who takes even a couple of minutes watching Harper play will soon figure out she is not afraid to get inside with the big girls.
Harper has averaged double digits in rebounding in each of her three seasons at Chicago high school powerhouse Whitney Young High School. Right on cue, when the U.S. Under-17 played a friendly against their Brazilian counterparts Harper's first two points came when she grabbed not one but two offensive rebounds.

"I think it was one of my strong suits when I started playing basketball," Harper said. "It's just a knack for the ball, seeing where the shooters shoot and rotate. I try to get my feet set and I just go for the ball. I take a lot of pride but I am used to it now and it is one of the things I do when I am on the court."
U-17 head coach Jill Rankin Schneider, who also coached Harper on the U-16 team in 2011, raves about Harper's knack for rebounding.

"Linnae Harper is one of the best rebounding guards I have ever seen and physically her stature is so impressive," Schneider said. "She is so strong on the boards that she is not that little presence at the point guard spot. Last year she did a great job in that role for us and I have already seen her emerge in this role this year.

"Linnae is a very positive kid and I love her. She has a great outlook and wants to get better. She is all about improving herself and she has done everything we have asked her."

Harper's rebounding prowess came in handy at one U.S. event that she will not soon forget.

Harper and fellow U-17 team members Kaela Davis, Rebecca Greenwell and Taya Reimer were selected to play in an international 3 on 3 tournament.

Everything was going according to plan until the injury bug hit the U.S. squad. Reimer was the first to be sidelined and the team pressed forward even though there would be no substitutes. When Greenwell suffered a knee injury the team was faced with a seemingly impossible challenge of having to play 2 on 3 the rest of the way. With Greenwell and Reimer and everybody else in the U.S. travel party there rooting them on they nearly pulled off the impossible. Even though a gallant effort by Davis and Harper fell short in the bronze medal game against Italy, tournament officials were impressed enough to award an honorary bronze medal to the U.S. squad.

"It was a wonderful challenge," Harper said. "Me and Kaela Davis had to fight and battle against Italy and it was a great, great experience. We almost won that game and it was great to be honored with the bronze.
"It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to play those games and have the mindset to play a full game with no subs. That game was wonderful. I will never forget that game, it was one of the most amazing moments in my life."

There were more magical moments to come during her junior year of high school as Harper led her team to an undefeated season including a four-overtime classic state tournament victory over three-time defending state champion Bolingbrook which was led by UConn commit Morgan Tuck.

"I am just living a dream, staying in the moment and cherishing every moment," Harper said. "It is great to have a perfect season and I am proud to have another chance to represent my country so it is just a wonderful experience overall.

"(The Bolingbrook game) it was a great game, four overtimes and one of greatest games I have ever played in since I started playing basketball. It should have been a state finale game but it was going to come pretty soon. We were ready whenever we had to play them and we had to do whatever we had to do."

Check out a video clip of Harper and other UConn recruiting targets shot during the recently completed U.S. junior national team training camp

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