UConn eyeing sizeable 2014 class
While NCAA rules preclude Auriemma from discussing uncommitted recruits, recruiting sources have indicated that he came away extremely impressed with A'ja Wilson, a 6-foot-5 wing out of Heathwood Hall Episcopal Academy in Columbia, S.C. and Kathryn Westbeld, a 6-foot-2 forward out of Fairmont High in Kettering, Ohio.
Wilson, considered by many as the nation's top high school junior, did not disappoint with Auriemma in the stands for Tuesday's 80-22 win over Orangeburg Prep. She had 33 points (on 14 of 22 shooting), 15 rebounds, three assists, three steals and four blocked shots in 80-22 win. It was Wilson ninth straight game shooting better than 60 percent, fell one rebound shy of having a double-double in every game this season. Averaging 29.6 points, 14.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.6 steals and 5.8 blocks per game, shooting 68.4 percent from the field (not including Friday's win over Augusta Christian).
Wilson is a tremendous athlete. As an eighth grader she was a sub 13 second time in the 100 meters and she led Heathwood Hall to its first state tournament in volleyball.
Westbeld, who is a new name on UConn's recruiting radar, had 24 points in Fairmont's 54-48 loss to Centerville on Wednesday. Westbeld is said to be the kind of well-rounded, blue-collar type of player that UConn loves to recruit and every indication is that she is very much in the mix with the Huskies.
This is a key year of recruiting for the Huskies. With Saniya Chong the only player signed this year UConn only has seven scholarship players in the fold once Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley graduate in 2014. The Huskies do have a commitment from talented Arizona wing Courtney Ekmark and what I am hearing is the Huskies would like to bring in two more perimeter players and two big kids.
Wilson is clearly the top priority for UConn and it remains to be seen whether she will opt to leave South Carolina. What I've been hearing is that she is not planning to make a college decision until after the summer AAU season is completed.
Another top player on the Huskies' radar is Sierra Calhoun, a guard at Christ the King who recently scored her 1,000th career point. UConn has been out to see her play a few times with Auriemma in the stands for a memorable showdown with Chong's Ossining squad. Sources have indicated that UConn loves her game and likes her as a person and every indication is that they will offer her a scholarship. She would be a natural to land at UConn since her father said he'd prefer that both of his kids went to the same college and his son Omar Calhoun Jr. is a freshman on the UConn men's basketball team.
Perhaps the most intriguing prospect on UConn's radar is Nevada guard Gabby Williams who was averaging more than 30 points per game before suffering a knee injury. UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph was out in Sparks, Nev. to watch Williams have 23 points, six rebounds, seven assists, six steals and three blocks in an 85-61 win over Spanish Springs eight days ago. Unfortunately, the 5-11 guard tore her ACL in a game the following day.
What is interesting about Williams' recruitment is that she is one of the nation's best high jumpers. As a 15-year-old she finished fifth in the high jump at the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials. Williams has been quoted as saying she plans on competing in both sports in college and intends on redshirting in 2016 to prepare for a run at making the Olympic team. I can't recall the last two-sport scholarship player during Auriemma's tenure so it would be something unique if UConn manages to land her. While my initial reaction is that a track phenom like Williams would be more likely to stay in a warm-weather setting for training purposes, it should be noted that UConn grad Trisha-Ann Hawthorne just ran the fastest 200 meter time in the world during the current indoor season earlier this week so world-class track and field stars can thrive in a New England environment,
You may have noticed that a couple of names have yet to be mentioned (Brianna Turner and Jordin Canada). There's a pretty good reason. All indications are that UConn's interest in them is waning a bit although I am not ready to proclaim that the Huskies are no longer involved with either one. Both players have recently released a top five list of schools which includes UConn but I'd be very surprised if either of them will land at UConn.