Courtney Ekmark, the soon-to-be junior guard from national champion St. Mary’s of Phoenix, and freshly committed to the UConn women’s basketball program, is in New Haven this weekend to watch her 14-year-old brother participate in the Yale Elite basketball camp.
So she has already seen the fundamental difference with East Coast weather, as opposed to the dry environs of Arizona, where it’s hot, but the heat, as you may have heard, is dry.
But weather was the last thing on her mind when she decided, with two years still to go in high school, that UConn was the place for her. Mind you, this is a young woman with the grades and aptitude to go to Yale, Harvard or Princeton, all of which she visited prior to saying yes to the Huskies.
“If you pay attention, or know anything about basketball, I think you would know that UConn is an amazing place to play basketball. They’ve won so many national titles and always have a great team,” Ekmark said Saturday.
But if giving her commitment to UConn earlier this week – the first player in the Class of 2014 – wasn’t enough to make a memory, her recruiting trip Storrs in late February certainly was.
The family flew in from Phoenix to see UConn’s game against Notre Dame at the XL Center. They stayed at a hotel on campus. Twice during the stay, they had breakfast with the coaching staff. But all the fun really happened after the end of the Notre Dame game, which started at 9 (thank you, ESPN).
“It was crazy. So many things happened,” Ekmark said. “First of all, they [UConn lost, which was a bummer. And then we got a flat tire in the parking garage [in Hartford] and they weren’t fully able to fix the flat, so we had to go back to the airport (and get another car) with the air slowly coming out of the tire.
“Then we ran over a skunk on the way back.
“And when we got back to our hotel, the room was flooded from water that was leaking through the roof of the room above us. My parents’ stuff was all wet. The hotel gave them all their stuff in a bag.”
And yet, she still decided Connecticut was the place for her, flat tires and flat skunks, notwithstanding. And here’s why:
“It was fun, even though all that stuff happened. My family has a motto, “It’s more fun to be fun.”I spent a lot of time with the coaches and the girls on the team. They were very nice to us. And I must say, it was pretty cool just sitting in the gymnasium and soaking up the atmosphere.”
After one of the breakfasts is when Auriemma gave Ekmark the good news.
“He just said, ‘We’d really like you to come to Connecticut. We think you will do really well here..’ Ekmark said.
UConn saw her last summer, playing for the Arizona Warriors in one of those AAU college viewing tournaments. Her first contact was with Shea Ralph, then a phone call with Geno was set up.
“But this was my first time meeting him in person. It was cool. I was always impressed that he gets the most out of his players. That’s what I’ve always liked about him,” Ekmark said.
“It just seemed like the right time. I started the process early and I guess I finished it early, too.”
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