Special day for UConn's Big Three
In between the open practice which resembled a layup line drill and the actual practice the Huskies held off site, Jefferson, Stewart and Tuck were front and center when the WBCA All-American team was announced.
While Stewart being named the Wade Trophy winner for the second season in a row and Jefferson earning the WBCA's Defensive Player of the Year award was something the two of them won't soon forget, the true highlight came when Tuck joined them as WBCA All-Americans meaning she will soon be joining them in the Huskies of Honor.
"She deserved it and deserved it last year," Jefferson said. "Every time she is on the floor she plays like an All-American, I am very excited for her and happy she got the recognition."
The way the WBCA All-American system is set up, a maximum of three players can be nominated per team to make the all-region teams with those players on the final All-American ballot. A season ago Jefferson, Stewart and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis earned All-American honors. Now it was Tuck's turn.
"It means everything," Tuck said. "Now that I know I am going to be up there (in the Huskies of Honor), it feels really good.
"It was one of the goals that I had , I am really excited and glad to be there."
Tuck still can remember when UConn coach Geno Auriemma said in front of the team that Tuck deserves to be an All-American which is something that resonated with Tuck.
"That meant a lot to me to hear that from him," Tuck said.
This is the sixth time that three players from the same team earned WBCA All-American honors as Tennessee did it in 1999 with Chamique Holdsclaw, Tamika Catchings and Semeka Randall while UConn accomplished the feat in 2002 (Sue Bird, Swin Cash, Diana Taurasi), 2009 (Tina Charles, Renee Montgomery and Maya Moore), 2014 (Stefanie Dolson, Bria Hartley and Stewart) as well as 2015 and 2016.
"It is unbelievable for all three of us to come in together and for all three of us to be on the court like that receiving the All-American (award) together, it is something we will remember for a while," Stewart said.
Considering how UConn has dominated this season, it isn't a huge surprise that the awards announcement was rather UConn-centric.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for them and I love that they are great girls on and off the court and they are also great players," said South Carolina's A'ja Wilson, who was also one of the 10 All-Americans. "They are going to capitalize on your mistakes and are a great set of girls.
"Their chemistry is crazy. Alaina Coates and I have chemistry as well and I think the come (across) off the court as well."
Fellow Final Four participants Kelsey Plum of Washington and Jamie Weisner of Oregon State were joined on the team by Wilson, Nina Davis of Baylor, Kelsey Mitchell of Ohio State, Notre Dame's Brianna Turner and South Florida's Courtney Williams.
Fans in attendance at the open practice likely noticed that freshman Katie Lou Samuelson was held out of practice. Samuelson wasn't feeling well so the decision was made to keep her out of the practice. It is uncertain whether she will be taking place in the practice currently going on off site but she is expected to play in Sunday's national semifinal.