When Katie Lou Samuelson, the versatile 6-3 wing from Huntington Beach, Calif., and Mater Dei High, announced on Twitter Monday she will play for UConn it put a exclamation point on a remarkable two-year recruiting run for the nine-time national champions.
And that’s even without getting A’ja Wilson, the top player in the Class of 2014 who chose South Carolina.
“I don’t see them losing for a very long time,” said Bret McCormick, the managing partner and publisher of the All-Star Girls Report, one of the nation’s premier recruiting websites. “I am serious. I mean, something could happen. Someone could slip up along the way. But they are not losing for a long time. It’s like looking at Tiger Woods. I mean Phil Mickelson is a great golfer, but Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods.”
Samuelson becomes the third top five ASGR prospect to join the Huskies Class of 2015, joining Napheesa Collier of St. Louis and Maryland’s De’Janae Boykin. And that class will also be joined in 2015-16 by 6-5 center Natalie Butler, the Big East freshman of the year last season at Georgetown, who transferred to UConn last week.
And when they start their careers, they will join a group of four guards that come to campus this season as freshmen: Kia Nurse, Gabby Williams, Sadie Edwards and Courtney Ekmark.
That will give the Huskies eight players in their first or second seasons during the 2015-16 season, when Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson are seniors.
After recruiting four guards for this season, McCormick said UConn went out looking for big posts to help them move replace Stefanie Dolson and Kiah Stokes, who will be a senior this season.
“They needed kids 6-5 or even bigger,” McCormick said. “If you remember the NCAA game they played against BYU, they had some trouble dealing with Jennifer Hamson [the 6-7 center. She even bothered Dolson a little.
“Natalie Butler is a very mature player. She was a good player coming out of high school. I just don’t she was as confident about herself. She will be a great player for them.
“I think they are all set. I think all they really to need right now is to find out if they can also get Asia Durr [the highly touted 5-10 guard from Atlanta]. If they get her, too, man, I don’t know what else you can say about it? There is no else UConn really needs to take.”
McCormick has Durr and Samuelson as co-No. 1 players in the Class of 2015.
The Huskies may actually be nearing a situation where they have too many players and not enough minutes to give them when Samuelson, Boykin, Collier and Butler arrive. They will join a team that will also have juniors Morgan Tuck and Saniya Chong along with Jefferson and Stewart. That’s a dozen of the best players in the nation all at UConn’s disposal.
“I still think UConn will concentrate of trying to get Asia Durr,” McCormick said. “If they can get her, they will take her. If they don’t get her, they don’t need anyone else. She along the lines of Maya Moore; she competes hard, loves the game, plays many positions. That’s what Geno loves, players who compete.”
Prior to the commitment of Samuelson, the Huskies were very interested in 6-2 forward Erin Boley. But there doesn’t seem to a place for her now, since her skill set seems to mirror those of Collier and Boykin.
There is also a chance UConn may still want to look at 6-4 Kalani Brown of Louisiana for the Class of 2015, to step in next to Butler. But it’s more likely Durr is the bigger target and the Huskies will focus more on to 2016, where 5-5 point guard Crystal Dangerfield of Muffreesboro, Tenn., has seriously interested the UConn coaching staff.
“Coaches spend too much time recruiting for position,” McCormick said. “Geno recruits kids who can play and the he puts them on the floor. He has so much size now, and his kids can play so many different positions, that he’s going to be a match-up nightmare. All these kids can shoot, pass and dribble.”
Samuelson chose the Huskies despite the fact her two sisters, Bonnie, a senior, and Karlie, a sophomore, play for Stanford. The Cardinal were also very interested in Katie Lou, as was Notre Dame. Samuelson is an outstanding offensive threat with consistent range who is considered able to create her own shots off the dribble.
Last season, she averaged 26.3 points and shot 62 percent from the field and 54 percent (81 of 151) from the three-point line. She is also an 89.4 percent free throw shooter.
Samuelson, the Gatorade Player of the Year in California, was named to the 2013 USA Basketball Women’s U16 national team. She was also the Orange County Register Player of the Year and a first-team USA Today All-American.
Samuelson made her official visit to UConn in April along with Collier, Boykin and Haley Gorecki of Palatine, Ill. Only Gorecki (Duke) did not eventually chose the Huskies.
Samuelson will try out this summer with Team USA’s U17 team, which is scheduled to play in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship in the Czech Republic, June 28-July 6. Tryouts are May 22-26 and training camp is scheduled for June 12-17 before the team departs for an exhibition tournament in France June 20-22.