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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Former teammates weigh in on UConn signee Andra Espinoza-Hunter

I've spoken to UConn senior guard Saniya Chong countless times over the last four years and always resisted the temptation to ask her about Andra Espinoza-Hunter, her former teammate at UConn since it would be a violation of NCAA rules for Chong to talk about her until Espinoza-Hunter signed her national letter of intent.

Well, Espinoza-Hunter put her signature on the dotted line on Wednesday and is officially part of UConn's four-player incoming recruiting class so I got Chong's take on Espinoza-Hunter after today's practice.

"It was awesome playing with her," said Chong, a teammate with Espinoza-Hunter during her junior and senior seasons when Andra was a seventh and eighth grader. "She can do all different things on the court, she can get to the basket, play defense so with her it made the team even better.

"She will fit in right away because she works hard, she is always focused and really excited. You see her here all the times coming to games, coming  to practice so I am sure she is ready to jump in and show what we can do."

Espinoza-Hunter helped Ossining to the 2012 and 2013 New York Class AA titles. After spending three seasons at Blair Academy, she has decided to play her final her senior season at Ossining.

"That is amazing to start off and now to finish especially with her being home," Chong said. "I think she loves that. She misses her friends, she misses her family and being in that home environment is really great,"

Batouly Camara, a transfer from Kentucky who is sitting out this season, played with Espinoza-Hunter for two seasons at Blair Academy.

Espinoza-Hunter said it was "the best day ever" when she heard the news that she would be teammates with Camara again

Camara will get to play with Espinoza-Hunter for three more years which is something she is really excited about.

"It will be awesome to play with Andra again, we have known each other since we was in fifth grade and I was in seventh so we had a great relationship and I am so glad she is coming here," Camara said. "The opportunity to play with her at Blair, to watch her grow into the young woman that she is today it just makes me so happy."

So what will Espinoza-Hunter bring to the table when she comes to UConn?

"Just energy, she is a competitor in everything she does so that is what she is going to bring on and off the court," Camara said.

Espinoza-Hunter joins Mikalya Coombs, Lexi Gordon and Megan Walker as part of a highly-touted incoming freshman class. All-Star Girls Report, which includes the transfers of Camara and Azura' Stevens in the ratings, has UConn with the No. 1 recruiting class.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma had to wait until Thursday as Walker, the top-rated recruit in the class, completed the class with her commitment. He said it was a relatively stress free process.

"As we were going through the recruiting process I thought we were recruiting some really good kids who had a pretty good idea of what we are looking for," Auriemma said. "For the most part every one those kids was kind of easy to recruit. They were really knowledgeable about what have and what we have to offer, what they could accomplish there.

"It is a group that has the potential to do a lot of great things. Individually they are all probably at different levels right now, some have played at a higher level have more experience than others but I think as a group they bring a lot of things that right now if you look at our team they are going to get an opportunity to show what they've got right away. I think they are pretty versatile as a group, I don't think we have anybody who is locked in being a one-dimensional type of kids so I think all in all we helped ourselves a lot "

What is interesting about how UConn recruits is only a select few are invited for visits to campus. This year that was definitely the case as the only four players to take official visits to UConn were the four players who committed and then signed with the Huskies.

"We don't waste our time with kids we don't think we can get or kids that we think it is going to be a major struggle," Auriemma said. "We know before we ask a kid to come on an official visit, we know because a lot of them have been here before. We have a pretty good idea that it is going to be us and somebody else or it is no more than three schools generally so our chances of getting them are pretty good. That doesn't mean we are going to get all of them but we are also willing to not have a great recruiting class if we don't get the kids we want. I have really started to believe with all of my heart 'that kid you don't get isn't going to hurt you. Bringing in the wrong kid is going to hurt you so we've rather not get anybody than bring in the wrong kid. I think everyone of these kids coming in has the right temperament, the right kind of player for us."

They all know each other, they have all spent time together. There are not looking over each other's shoulder. We told them up front that your success at Connecticut has nothing to do with who else is coming and we understand that 

I happened to noticed that the UConn men's season opener, which aired on SNY, was not available on ESPN3 and the last time I checked with the folks at UConn they were still waiting to hear back from ESPN to see if the SNY games will be streamed live on ESPN3 (outside of the SNY coverage area).

I was told they have heard back and those 17 games airing on SNY will be available on ESPN3 as will the games on ESPN and ESPN2.

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Blogger Stephen said...

This is a really concise and clear summary of Geno's recruiting philosophy. It explains a lot of history and should be mandatory reading for all the fanboard recruiting "experts." Thank you, Jim.

7:16 PM 

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