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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

UConn commit Samuelson "I want to win four national championships"

When Breanna Stewart headed to UConn she made it clear that among her goals was to win four national titles. She is just one championship shy of making that become a reality.

With Katie Lou Samuelson sweeping the major national player of the year awards as Stewart did as a high school season. I headed up to New York today to talk to Samuelson and fellow UConn incoming freshmen De'Janae Boykin and Napheesa Collier in between practices for Friday's Jordan Brand Classic. I asked her if her goal was also to win four titles with the Huskies when I spoke to Samuelson and she did not hesitate.

"I want to win four national championships," Samuelson said. "I think all of us do. We definitely don't want to bring anything down and we all just ready to go."

This group of incoming freshman is similar to the group that Stewart came in with as all three players are high school All-Americans. There are no under the radar players in either class which is normally the case.

"I think we have a lot of potential, all three of us are All-Americans, we definitely have a lot of talent within us and I think all three of us work together well," Samuelson said. "We played 3 on 3 together (leading the United States to the 2014 Youth Olympic Games title) and we meshed together. Going in we are all excited and we know we can bring different stuff and can each contribute so I think it is going to be good.

"I like the pressure. I am very competitive and I want things to be tough, I think all of us are like that and we are really excited to go to such a great school and we want to keep on winning. We are all supercompetitive, I think that is what brought us together."

Samuelson downplayed the importance of the national player of the year awards that she has received since the season ended.

"Overall, I am super grateful for all of them probably last year I didn't even think I would be in this situation," Samuelson said. "I am very blessed to be here and it is all because of my high school team, all my teammates really made it possible for me."

Samuelson said she hasn't noticed more eyes on her as the UConn commit and national high school player of the year, especially not from the fellow All-Americans who she has gotten to know through AAU and USA Basketball circles.

"With these girls, I know a lot of them and we are all frieds so it is like hanging out with each other and I don't really notice anything else," Samuelson said. "I try not to let anything get to my head."

One thing that Samuelson believes is that all three incoming freshmen have what it takes to thrive in the pressure-packed environment at UConn where one loss become a huge news story.

"It definitely takes a competitive player who wants to win and wants to challenge themselves every single day," Samuelson said. "It is one of the places where we know the target is on our back. Everybody wants to beat UConn. I think that takes a certain type of player and all three of us are really excited about it."

Samuelson knows about playing for a team with a target on its back. Mater Dei finished with a 31-3 record. However, one loss came to Chaminade in the CIF Southern Section Open Division title and Samuelson's career at Mater Dei came to an end with a loss to St. Mary's of Stockton in the CIF Open Division title game.

"We are definitely bummed that we didn't end up winning the state championship but overall we did a lot more than we thought we could at the beginning of the season," Samuelson said. "We were pretty young, we had a couple of freshmen who came in and played huge for us and they helped a lot. Overall, my senior year has just been awesome."

Finally, I heard the story about Samuelson watching UConn win its record 10th national title with her sisters and the rest of the Stanford team so I had to ask her about that.

"It was spring break I was visiting with my sisters (members of the Stanford team) and visiting them, watching games and we were with the whole team in the lounge," Samuelson said. "It was pretty fun, they were waiting for the announcer to say 'after that loss to Stanford' so they were happy about that one but it was fun, we were all just hanging out together.

"I had to be pretty cool, I was at Stanford and I wasn't going to rub it anybody's face."

I didn't get any concrete update on her status but Samuelson wasn't doing the drills in practice when I was there so I am curious how much she will play in Friday's game. I do, however, know what is next. She will head out to Colorado Springs next month for the U.S. U-19 trials and come to UConn in early June  for the start of summer session.

"I am excited for it and excited that it is almost here," Samuelson said. I enjoyed my high school career but I am ready to move on."

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1 Comments:

Blogger Genosguy said...

This whole incoming Freshmen group will be great at Uconn but they need to learn "they Uconn way".
I love the confidence and niceness of Katie Lou--I hope the press starts interviewing Boykin and De--, My memory for names is terrible, but those two should not be lost in the love of Katie Lou.
She should have cheered Uconn while at Stanford--Her sisters had the opportunity to win 2,3, or 4 championships at Uconn toooo bad!!

8:59 AM 

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