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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

UConn recruiting target Samuelson a scoring machine

A quick look at Katie Lou Samuelson's statistics during her junior season at Mater Dei High gives a pretty good indication of the highly-touted recruit's impressive scoring ability.

Last night's 34-point performance against Archbishop Williams, one of the best teams in Massachusetts, was her 16th game of the season. She has scored at least 20 points in 14 of them and she finished with 19 with the other two.

The way the game started it seemed as if the points were going to be hard to come by. She missed her first four 3-pointers and only one of them was even close to going in. But like all great scorers, she has an ability to go from four points to 24 in the blink of an eye. That is certainly what happened at the HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Mass. last night.

Samuelson was feeling a little under the weather last night. Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said she was downing Pepto Bismol at a feverish rate so perhaps that contributed to her slow start. Samuelson said she thought she got an upset stomach from eating "something bad from a Subway." UConn fans can breath a sigh of relief as she said it was not from the Subway inside the UConn Student Union.

"It wasn't that bad during the game," said Samuelson, who is averaging 26.9 points per game with 53 3-pointers and she is shooting 96.8 from the free-throw line in 16 games. "I kind of focused during the game and it bother me that much."

Samuelson's line was 34 points on 13 of 23 shooting (5 of 12 from 3-point range), five rebounds, two assists and two steals in little more than 2 1/2 quarters.

Samuelson, who flew in a day earlier with her parents so she could take an unofficial visit to UConn just as former Mater Dei star Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis did during her junior season, is rated only behind fellow UConn recruiting target Asia Durr in the Class of 2015 rankings. She certainly knows how to draw a crowd. As the head coaches from four of the seven schools she is considering made the trip to Blake Arena as Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw, Duke's Joanne P. McCallie and Kentucky's Matthew Mitchell were there along with UConn head coach Geno Auriemma and assistant coach Shea Ralph.

When I looked over to the coaches' area, very rarely were they even watching the game. McGraw was texting up a storm, Auriemma was chatting with DePaul coach Doug Bruno but it was more about being seen at the game rather than identifying Samuelson as a top recruit. There was no way the rival coaches were going to let UConn be the only show in town with Samuelson playing about a 45-minute drive from the UConn campus.

Samuelson said Stanford, UCLA and Ohio State join Notre Dame, UConn, Duke and Kentucky as the schools on her list but that the recruiting process has not gotten out of control.

"Coaches, we have asked them if they can only call on Sundays and they have respected that so it hasn't been too overwhelming at all," Samuelson said.

"I just took a trip to UConn, earlier (visited) Notre Dame and I have been to see my sisters at Stanford and UCLA. Definitely want to go back to these schools again and do more (visits), hopefully right after the season we will take some."

So what is she looking for in her college of choice?

"Definitely want to be somewhere where it can make me the best player I can be and just be in a competitive environment where everybody wants to do their best every single day," Samuelson said.

"I want to go to a place where this is where I want to be for four years and where I belong and when I feel really comfortable with my choice."

Samuelson gets a chuckle at the notion that she is destined to land at Stanford simply because that is where her sisters Bonnie and Karlie play. Perhaps that will be her school of choice but the decision will involve more issues than blind loyalty to her sisters.

"My sisters know whatever the best fit for me they are happy with," Samuelson said. "They are not just like 'you have to come play with us. If you want to play with us, that is awesome but I want you to be happy no matter what.'

"I think it (the she is a lock to land at Stanford talk) has lessened but I don't really pay attention that much, as long as my sisters support me it doesn't matter what other people are telling me where to go one way or the other."

Samuelson credits the competitive games against her sisters and not just those involving basketball for toughening her up over the years.

"We have had some pretty intense 1 on 1 games and I became stronger and tougher because they would never take it easy on me," Samuelson said.

I couldn't resist asking Samuelson which one of the sisters is the best shooter.

"I'd have to saw Bonnie is like a robot and she every single time (making) the same exact shot but Karlie can give Bonnie a run for her money when Karlie is on," Samuelson said.

"I think I am kind of similar to them, I am similar to Bonnie and Karlie is kind of a dive after every ball, take charge defensive player and get after everything so I think she does that better than me."

Samuelson was a dynamic scorer when she played at Edison High as a freshman before she and Karlie transferred to Mater Dei. Kiernan said his goal is to make her into more than just a remarkable shooter. So where does Samuelson see as the areas she needs to improve on?

"Definitely need to work on posting up, I need to get stronger and be able to make moves in the post so they can't take me out of the game and try to keep working on my drives and try to finish," Samuelson said.

This is the first season that Samuelson isn't playing alongside one of her sisters. Even though she is just in her second season with the Monarchs, she feels a sense of camaraderie with her teammates. That was never more evident than the way she was beaming with joy watching her teammates play in the fourth quarter even though she knew her night was over due to Mater Dei's commanding lead.

"She loves playing, she loves to practice, she loves to play and she loves to watch other people play," Kiernan said. "She is a very enthusiastic kid and she is fun to be around."

Here's what Samuelson had to say about her Mater Dei team.

"I never felt more of a sisterhood," Samuelson said. "Everyone supports every single player and everyone supports everyone so it is awesome to be able to be watching them.

"It really was one of the greatest moves I ever did because every single person was so welcoming. It is a big part of my life and I am happy to be with them."

Those wanting a quick college decision by Samuelson will be disappointed.

"I don't think I have a time frame," Samuelson said. "I think I am going to wait until after the season for sure and see how it is from there. Probably before (the early signing period in November), don't think I want to drag it out that long."

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