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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, May 22, 2015

U.S. U-16 coach dishes on UConn recruits

There might not be a high school coach who has had more of a first-hand look at the next wave of UConn players than Mt. Lebanon (Pa.) High School coach Dori Oldaker.

UConn Class of 2016 commit Kyla Irwin was a key member of the State College (Pa.) HS team that eliminated Oldaker's Mt. Lebanon team out of the 2014 PIAA Class AAAA tournament. The teams met again in December in the Altoona Tip-Off Tournament. With Oldaker named the head coach of the U.S. team playing in the FIBA Americas U16 Championships and the trials for the teams currently taking place, the folks at USA Basketball set up a phone interview with Oldaker for me this afternoon.

"A great kid, very talented," Oldaker said. "She can get up and down the floor and I think she will be a swing (forward at UConn). The thing I love about her is that she loves the game. What is nice about her is she can go inside/outside. She is going to be a hard matchup; at the high school level she is a very hard matchup."

Oldaker also coached the U.S. 3x3 team which won the gold medal at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games. That team featured UConn incoming freshmen Napheesa Collier, De'Janae Boykin and Katie Lou Samuelson as well as Notre Dame signee Arike Ogunbowale. That quartet went 13-0 with nine of the wins by at least 10 points.

"It was fun watching them in what they are doing at the high school level and it will be fun watching them on TV next year," Oldaker said. "They really compete, they are great kids, they have a great deal of respect and are true leaders, true teammates."

UConn Class of 2017 commit Andra Espinoza-Hunter is one of 158 players currently in Colorado Springs for the U-16 trials but Oldaker politely refrained from discussing any of the players currently competing for the 12 spots on the U-16 squad.

There was one more UConn connection I asked her about. One of Mt. Lebanon's conference rivals is Chartiers Valley. It just so happens that the Chartiers Valley coach is former UConn guard Ashley Battle who played on three national championship teams during her days as a Husky.

"I actually coached Ashley Battle in the Dapper Dan (classic) way back," Oldaker said. "For her to be a high school player, college player and now a high school coach is pretty phenomenal. She is another great person, another great role model to have in our business.

"She understands where players are coming from, she is a player's coach. I think she has done a really nice job at Chartiers Valley."

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