I mentioned last night that I was working on a story on incoming UConn freshman Breanna Stewart, the incumbent national high school girls basketball player of the year.
Well, if you don’t have access to the Hartford Courant – newspaper version – here is a sneak peak at it…
By JOHN ALTAVILLA
At some point Friday, the car packed to the roof with just about everything she will need, Brian and Heather Stewart will bring their daughter, Breanna, to Storrs to officially begin life as a UConn undergraduate.
It will be a poignant moment; seminal changes in life always are. But frankly, the Stewarts have grown accustomed to Breanna coming and going.
That’s why this extraordinarily close family wanted to spend time together this week. On Wednesday, Breanna went shopping with her grandmother.
“She really spoiled me,” said Stewart.
And with good reason: On Monday, the first day of the fall semester, Stewart will celebrate her 18th birthday.
Wednesday night, just like they’ve done so many times in their lives, Brian took Breanna to the movies.
“The Bourne Legacy,” said Breanna. “We go to the movies a lot, whenever I am able to be home. This summer I haven’t been home a lot, of course. I try to get him to go to chick flicks with me, but he really doesn’t go for that.”
Stewart arrives at UConn as the nation’s incumbent national high school player of the year, just as so many Huskies have done before her. The path she has followed has taken her all over the world with USA Basketball and her high school team, Cicero in North Syracuse, N.Y.
“Yes, we are kind of used to Breanna not being here,” said Brian Stewart.
But now, the direction is about to change. It’s no longer about where she’s been. It’s about where she might be headed.
With fellow UConn freshmen Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson, Stewart helped lead USA Basketball’s U18 team to a FIBA Americas World Championship last week in Puerto Rico.
Stewart was voted the Most Valuable Player, an award she accepted with the customary humility that has endeared her to the UConn staff.
“I am probably more impressed with her as a person than a player — and she is a tremendous player,” said Chris Dailey, UConn’s associate head coach. “She is the totally likable kid. I love her sense of humor. I love everything about her. And that’s not even considering one thing about her on the basketball court. She is just going to be a lot of fun to be around.”
But now, Stewart, alongside Tuck and Jefferson, along with a strong supporting cast of upper classmen that have helped UConn to five straight Final Fours, will try and bring the Huskies a few more national championships.
“Just thinking about all the times we’ve already spent together just makes me want to laugh,” said Stewart. “Morgan, Moriah and I have built a great relationship over the years. We get along very well. I just can’t wait to get on campus and start thinking about trying to win national championships with them.”
Here is your scorecard: Stewart will wear No. 30 and room with Jefferson, who will wear No. 4.
Tuck has asked for No. 3 [that of Diana Taurasi and Tiffany Hayes fame, but also her older sister, Taylor, a sophomore at Illinois] and will room with a volleyball player.
This summer, Stewart scored an A and a B+ in her two classes, geography and a sociology class on relationships, getting her UConn academic career off to a strong start.
Stewart reiterated that she is not intimidated by any of the expectations that may surround her.
“I don’t feel pressure at all,” she said. “When you go into a basketball game, you naturally are planning to win it.”
She said all the traveling she has done has also helped her mature, perhaps beyond the normal level that most 18-year-olds, away from home for the first time, might be.
“I agree with that,” said Stewart. “USA Basketball has helped me become more comfortable with the concept of leaving home. I’ve been away so much for long periods of time, especially during my junior and senior seasons when my high school team traveled. Then you add on AAU and high school All-America games, and it all kind of adds up and gets really busy. But I like it very much.
“Still, I don’t think I missed out on a lot. You do miss some things that you could have enjoyed with your friends. But when I come home they are there to hang out with me. That’s been a very helpful thing for me.”
Last week, UConn coach Geno Auriemma said he wasn’t interested in returning as Olympic coach in 2016, even though the sentiment for him to do so seems strong.
“I want to spent the next four years working with this group I have right now because we have a chance, especially in the next two years with Bria [Hartley] and Stefanie [Dolson],” said Auriemma. “I think these next two years could be something really special. Not that we haven’t had special teams before, but I want to spend all my time and energy worried about making that as good as it can be.”
Hearing that made Stewart smile.
“It’s gratifying to know that he is so intent and focused on helping us all reach our goals,” she said. “That’s going to make things a lot of fun for us and I very much look forward to it.”
And who knows? If Auriemma changes his mind, he may find another familiar face with him wearing the nation’s colors in Rio De Janiero in 2016.
“In 2008, playing in the Olympics someday wasn’t as much of a realistic goal for me as it is now,” said Stewart. “But I watched them this year thinking I could possibly play in the next Olympics and it refocused me and made me realize that this is something I can do and a goal I would like to meet.
“I want to do whatever I can to do that.”
- -- ADVERTISEMENT --
UConn Women Photos
Text AlertsComplimentary Huskies, breaking news, and/or weather alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
*Or text UCONNFB, UCONNMB, UCONNWBNEWS, WEATHER, NEWS to 37798
*These programs are available on the following carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, Nextel, Boost, Alltel, US Cellular. By clicking Submit you are confirming agreement with the terms and conditions governing this station and these mobile alerts. All submissions must be authorized by the account holder. Contact your carrier for more details.