UConn's Collier, Samuelson earn Associated Press All-American honors
Press preseason All-American women's basketball team and not one of them hailed from the
four-time defending national champions.
It was a much different story as UConn sophomores Napheesa Collier and Katie Lou
Samuelson were named first team All-Americans by the Associated Press. They join Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart as the only UConn sophomores to earn first-team AP All-American honors.
Samuelson is UConn's leading scorer, averaging 20.7 points per game. She heads into
Monday night's regional final against Oregon needing five 3-pointers to tie Kaleena
Mosqueda-Lewis' single-season program record. Samuelson and Mosqueda-Lewis are the only
UConn players with at least 100 assists and 100 3-pointers in the same season. The 724
points scored by Samuelson this season are the fifth most in program history. She has nine games with at least 25 points, the third most at UConn in the last 20 seasons.
"I think the big thing was at the end of the season I sat down with the coaches and
talked about how I could improve on a lot of little things and this year specifically,"
Samuelson said. "I really had no choice, I was going to have to do so many different
things in order for our team to be successful this year. Coach (Geno Auriemma) always
said it is interesting to see what people can do if they have no other choice but to do
it. I felt like I had to do more things offensively and defensively I had to step up,
that is what I have been trying to do."
Collier is second on the team in scoring with an average of 20.4 points per game. She is
shooting 69 percent from the field, the fourth best total in program history trailing
only the numbers Tamika Williams put up in her final three season.
Collier's scoring average jumped 13.64 points this season, the second largest one-year
improvement in UConn history and among current Division I women's players trails only
South Dakota' Allison Arens, Cassie Broadhead of BYU and Army's Madison Hovren.
"I feel like I didn't play to my potential last year, there were a lot of factors to it,"
said Collier, who also leads UConn in rebounding and blocked shots. "Everybody is so
much bigger and stronger than in high school and it is such a big learning curve. I knew
I could play better so I worked harder this season to get stronger, get more confident
on the ball."
UConn junior forward Gabby Williams was named a second-team All-American. She is third
on the team in scoring at 13.8 points per game, leads the Huskies with 185 assists and
94 steals and is second in rebounding. Williams could become the first UConn player with
at least 200 rebounds and assists in the same season.
"It is not something I thought about," Williams said. "You rarely think about individual
awards, it just kind of comes. We are focusing on how do we win, what's next for us."
Junior guard Kia Nurse, the only UConn player to receive a vote on the preseason ballot,
was an honorable mention selection on the postseason team. She is averaging 13 points per game, leads the Huskies with a 46.3 3-point percentage, is second on the team with 69 3-pointers.
Washington's Kelsey Plum was the only unanimous selection. She was joined on the first team by South Carolina's A'ja Wilson and Brionna Jones of Maryland.