Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Team-first Espinoza-Hunter ready to go for gold

So what exactly does Geno Auriemma and his coaching staff look for on the recruiting trail?

Certainly first-rate shooters, ferocious rebounders and versatile athletes are at the top of the list but the process goes a little deeper than that. On an annual basis UConn has been known to shy away from certain top prospects because it is not the right fit. Maybe it is body language, a certain selfishness on the court or the sense that the priorities aren't in tune with what the Huskies are trying to accomplish on and off the court.

So what constitutes a UConn recruit? Well, I present Exhibit A courtesy of Class of 2017 UConn commit Andra Espinoza-Hunter.

When Carol Callan, USA Basketball's Women's National Team Director, read off the names of the players suiting up for the U.S. at the FIBA Americas U16 Championships, Espinoza-Hunter was thrilled when she heard her name called. However, when Blair Academy teammate Honesty Scott-Grayson was also named to the team nobody was happier than Espinoza-Hunter.

"It was amazing," Espinoza-Hunter said. "When she announced my name I was happy but when she announced Honesty's name, I almost starting tearing (up ) because Honesty has worked so hard. I know she wasn't as happy with how well she played when she was here but I knew if she just worked hard she could show the committee and everybody else here that she was a talented player."
Espinoza-Hunter is coming off an outstanding sophomore season at Blair Academy where the she led the Buccaneers to their fifth straight New Jersey Prep School Class A title and the Mid-Atlantic Prep League titles as she had 43 points in the two championship games despite being on a senior-laden team featuring three Division I recruits.

With the presence of Kentucky signee Batouly Camara, California incoming freshman Bre Cavanaugh as well as Cy Lippold and Lauren Vostal as headed to Dartmouth and Williams respectively, Espinoza-Hunter was able to wander along the perimeter draining 3-pointer after 3-pointer. The U-16 trials allowed Espinoza-Hunter to show other facets to her game.

"I believe I drove to the basket, I don't do that as often as I would like but I think I did that well, also my defense and my communication was strong just stepping up and helping my team," Espinoza-Hunter said.

She also tried to take on a leadership role which isn't always to easiest thing surrounded by some of the nation's most talented players.

"I would try to approach it as a leader especially for our age group, we are pretty young but I think there should be a leader on this team so I would try to step up," Espinoza-Hunter said.
She knows her role will expand as a junior with the loss of the four talented seniors. She will use her time with the U-16 team as well as her time with the Philadelphia Belles AAU program to help prepare her for the upcoming high school season.

"This summer I will continue to work,," Espinoza-Hunter said. "We lost some people and we do have some people coming up but I am one of the people who have been there the longest so I believe I need to continue to step up and get better as a player."

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