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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Family ties are strong for UConn recruiting target Charli Collier

There are some high school kids who would cringe at the thoughts of having their mother work at the same school that they attend.

However, for UConn Class of 2018 recruiting target Charli Collier, the fact that her mother is a math teacher at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas is no problem at all.

"It is not awkward at all. It helps having somebody in your school that you know there with you all the time," said Collier, who is in Colorado Springs vying for a spot on the U-17 national team. "Me and my brother will be with her next year."

The Collier family has always had a special bond with basketball very much a part of it. They needed to be close considering the incredible loss they have had to endure when Collier's father died at the age of 53 after a valiant fight with cancer.

"We have always been close," Collier said. "That just brought us closer together as a family, me, my brother, my mom we are practically together all the time. We are there every day and we are there for each other."

That includes in Colorado Springs. Collier's mother, a former player at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas in the late 1980s, and brother have been doing some sightseeing when they weren't watching Charli at the U-17 trials.

They already visited Pike's Peak and a trip to the Garden of the Gods could be coming tomorrow.

My mom came last year. Touring Colorado. While I was in session my mom and brother went to Pike's Peak and could be going to the Garden of Gods tomorrow after the U-17 team is announced.

Of course Charli Collier's main focus this weekend has been on the basketball side of things. Last year she tried out for the U-16 team and was named an alternate

"I guess that motivated me to come back stronger, more in shape and be on the roster," Collier said. "When I came back this year I made sure I was more physical in the paint, make better decisions as a player and being so young, I just take it all in. This opportunity isn't always given to everybody so I am taking it all in and competing as hard as I can.

"It definitely makes you more hungry because everybody up here is good, you are competing with some of the best people in the nation and to go with all of that, you have to have confidence because if not, you will beat yourself down and you won't play well. Coming to the trials, you have to have the right mindset. You have to play every session as hard as you can, you have to do things that the committee is looking for."

Collier, who originally committed to Texas before deciding to take a little more time figuring out where she wants to go to college, admits that she doesn't have a top five or even a top 10.

"I am basically open to everybody," Collier said. "I talked to UConn, Notre Dame, Texas, Baylor and all of them and they all want me so it is all going to come down to where I feel comfortable with the coaches and my teammates. I will be there my whole four years, I don't want to be in a situation where I need to redshirt or transfer, I want to be at a school where I will be at a school for all four years and it will make me a better player.

"I talked to Coach (Marisa) Moseley, I talked to Geno (Auriemma) a few weeks back. They are recruiting me and their relationship with me is growing. I try to keep in touch every now and then. It is pretty cool talking to a legendary coach like that. Not only is he a good coach but he gives good advice to me going forward as a sophomore."

UConn is not only involved recruiting Collier, the No. 1 player on ESPN's Class of 2018 rankings, but No. 2 ranked Christyn Williams has already visited UConn. The Huskies have shown some interest in No. 6 Aquira DeCosta and Honesty Scott-Grayson (although most of the interaction with her came in the fall). According to Carl Adamec, who is out in Colorado Springs for the trials, No. 5 ranked Sedona Prince intends to visit UConn during its First Night festivities.

UConn hasn't been landing true post players in recent recruiting classes but that could change in the Class of 2018 with so many talented post players already drawing interest from the Huskies.

DeCosta is in a similar situation to Collier as she is very early on in the process of figuring out which schools she will be considering.

"I am sure where I want to go to college yet," DeCosta said.. "I am looking around and I have no idea."

That figures to change before the end of the summer.

DeCosta plays at the California powerhouse St. Mary's. When she was a freshman she played a starring role in the California Open Division title game which also happened to the final game in the brilliant high school career of current UConn star Katie Lou Samuelson.

DeCosta had 15 points in the 76-69 victory while Samuelson finished with 19.

"My high school coach (Tom Gonsalves) has helped me a lot to get better and become the person I am because he is always motivating me that even though I am good, I can always be better so it has helped me be better every day," DeCosta said. "Our practices a lot of times are harder than our games, that is how he likes to do it."

DeCosta admitted to having a bit of a nervous start at the trials but has been happy with her play as the trials have moved forward.

"There are a lot of elite players here and they are coming back to make a spot on the team but now I am getting used to it more and starting to compete with them," DeCosta said.

"I was kind of ready for it but then once I got here I thought 'wow, they are actually ready.'"

The 6-foot-2 DeCosta plays in the post in high school but is used more on the wing at the trials. She believes playing both positions will only help her down the road.

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