Geno Auriemma sensed for a very long time that UConn wasn’t going to get top-ranked A’ja Wilson. And his suspicion was confirmed Wednesday when the 6-4 forward from Heathwood Hall in Columbia. S.C., decided to stay home and go to USC.
“There is really no place like home,” Wilson said after making the announcement.
Wilson, a multi-talented 6-foot-4 wing, chose between UConn, South Carolina and North Carolina and Tennessee. She averaged 35 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks as a senior and led her team to a state championship and ranks second in school history in career points and first in career rebounds and blocks.
She is also a veteran on USA Basketball programs, having played last summer on the U19 world championship team in Lithuania. She averaged 10.9 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds during the team’s run to the gold medal. UConn’s Morgan Tuck, Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart were her teammates.
In December, she set the CresCom Bank Holiday Invitational single-game scoring record with 56 points. She also broke the four-game records for points (167) and rebounds (83) at the event, which is held in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Wilson is the WBCA, Parade Magazine and Naismith player of the year.
If she had choosen UConn, she would have completed another great recruiting class from the two-time defending national champions and helped fill the void left by the graduation of All-American Stefanie Dolson, who was selected sixth overall in the WNBA draft by the Washington Mystics on Monday.
The Huskies already will greet four big guards, Gabby Williams, Courtney Ekmark, Sadie Edwards and Kia Nurse, who is expected to be the point guard on the 2014 Canadian World Championship team this autumn in Turkey.
This still could still be a big weekend for the program. The Huskies are hosting the official visits of four of the nation’s top juniors, De’Janae Boykin, Napheesa Collier, Haley Gorecki, and Katie Lou Samuelson.
Boykin, 6-3, was Maryland’s Gatorade Player of the Year and a member of the United States U-16 national team in 2013.
Collier, a 6-1 forward from St. Louis, is also considering Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Notre Dame.
Gorecki, a 6-0 guard from Illinois, averaged 22.6 points as a junior.
And Samuelson, a 6-3 forward, was California’s Gatorade Player of the Year at Mater Dei, the school that sent Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis to UConn. She is also the sister of Stanford standouts Bonnie and Karlie Samuelsson.
But UConn fans will still get to see her twice in the upcoming seasons. The Huskies and Gamecocks begin a home-and-home next season in Connecticut.