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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, April 17, 2015

UConn seniors excited to play alongside pair of Husky legends

There was a fairly good chance that Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Kiah Stokes would be teaming up with at least one former UConn stars considering the large number of former Huskies playing in the WNBA.

Now that the dust has cleared, the two soon to be graduated seniors might have found the perfect mentors to aid their transition from college to professional basketball.

Mosqueda-Lewis, the NCAA Division I women's basketball all-time leading 3-point shooter, will get to play alongside of future Hall of Fame point guard Sue Bird in Seattle while shot-blocking dynamo Kiah Stokes will be teamed up in New York with Tina Charles, the all-time leading rebounder in UConn history.

"I am excited to learn from one of the best point guards to ever play," Mosqueda-Lewis said shortly after going No. 3 overall.

Sue Bird has been to some practices during Mosqueda-Lewis' four seasons and she was the color commentator on the ESPN2 broadcast when UConn hosted South Florida so there is already some familiarity between the two.

When she was in Storrs she spoke to a couple of us and of course the possibility of Mosqueda-Lewis joining the Storm was a popular topic of conversation as a potential No. 1 overall pick. As it turned out, early entrants Jewell Loyd and Amanda Zahui B. went No. 1 and 2 with Loyd set to join Mosqueda-Lewis in Seattle.

"When Seattle got the No. 1 pick, shortly thereafter Kaleena played in that Stanford game and a lot of people had a lot of opinions based on that one game and truthfully I didn't think that was fair," Bird said. "I get it, people say big players play well in big games and I get it but one game doesn't define you. With that being said, it is no secret that this draft isn't as strong as previous ones so it tough for a kid like Kaleena who in my opinion is the best player in the class and she is going to get compared to other No. 1 picks where maybe she isn't as talented as those players but that is just the way it is. I think people will try to compare her to past guards who have been picked high and she is going to be compared to them. Is that fair? No.  You put her in last year's draft, she goes five or six and that team is thrilled to have her. If she does go to Seattle and that is who they decide to pick, we will just as thrilled as any other team to have her and she can complement a team, bring things to a team that you probably haven't even seen here in Connecticut because she hasn't had to do it. For her that will be a challenge."

Mosqueda-Lewis' 3-point prowess has been her "get out of jail free card" when she struggled in other areas of her game according to UConn coach Geno Auriemma. While Mosqueda-Lewis is a proven offensive commodity who will need to prove herself on defense, the opposite is true for Stokes.

Stokes set UConn's single-season record with 147 blocked shots and it's hard to forget her 18-rebound performance at Notre Dame. She has not always been a player looking for her own offense. Playing alongside Charles, one of the most talented offensive post players in the world, is something that could help in her development.

"I met her on my (recruiting) visits," Stokes said of Charles. "I don't talk to her that much so I am excited to get to learn from her and get better. She is a great player and I want to follow in her footsteps."

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