By Carl Adamec
STORRS, Conn. — While becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to be the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four and of a regional in the same tournament, Breanna Stewart also came through with a 3.1 grade point average during the spring semester.
The UConn women’s basketball team’s sophomore forward said Wednesday she could do even better as she prepares to take her fall semester final exams.
“I feel good about them,” Stewart said. “I need to meet with my tutors, finish the assignments that are due this week, and get ready for them.”
After tonight’s game with UC Davis at the XL Center (7 p.m., SNY), the top-ranked Huskies will not play again until facing No. 2 Duke in the Jimmy V Classic at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Dec. 17.
“We’ll take time off to accommodate our exam schedule,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “We’ve got Friday and Saturday off and then we’ll go Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. We’ll take Wednesday off and from there we’ll try to figure out what the team needs. Do they need another day off or two? Do they need to go a little bit harder or take a little more time off? After that we’ll try to get ready for the 17th.”
While the players go to study hall, the UConn coaching staff will go recruiting.
Recruiting sources said that Auriemma will be headed to California for the weekend to focus on a pair of high school stars — Katie Lou Samuelson (6-foot-2 junior forward, Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Sabrina Ionescu (5-10 sophomore guard, Walnut Creek, Calif.).
Samuelson is rated the No. 2 recruit in the country by the All-Star Girls Report behind guard Asia Durr in the Class of 2015. She will be in Springfield, Mass., on Jan. 17 with her Mater Dei High team to face Archbishop Williams High of Braintree, Mass., at 6 p.m. in the Spalding Hoophall Classic.
Ionescu averaged 13.8 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.9 steals for Miramonte High School in Orinda, Calif., as a freshman. But her stock rose dramatically in May when, after paying her own way to attend the trials in Colorado Springs, she beat out more than 100 girls for one of the 12 spots on USA Basketball’s U-16 national team. Playing with the likes of Samuelson and Durr, Ionescu averaged 3.4 points and 3.8 rebounds as Team USA won gold at the FIBA Americas tournament in Mexico and clinched a berth in the 2014 FIBA U-17 world championships. She is No. 3 in the Class of 2016 ESPN HoopGurlz recruiting rankings.
Earlier this week, Auriemma traveled south to see another member of the U-16 team — Kalani Brown (6-4 junior center, Slidell, La.).
The recruiting sources added that UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey will head to the Midwest to look at Haley Gorecki (6-0 junior guard, Palatine, Ill.) and Erin Boley (6-2 sophomore forward, Hodgenville, Ky.). Gorecki and Boley have made unofficial visits to UConn this fall and a source confirmed that Gorecki received a scholarship offer during her trip last month. Boley is rated No. 19 in the Class of 2016 by HoopGurlz.
UConn assistant coach Marisa Moseley, who recently traveled to see HoopGurlz’s top-rated sophomore and U-16 national team member Lauren Cox (6-4 forward, Flower Mound, Texas), will also be in the Midwest to see Arike Ogunbowale (5-9 junior guard, Milwaukee) and Tori McCoy (6-4 sophomore forward, Champaign, Ill.). Ogunbowale, another U-16 player, is rated No. 9 in the Class of 2015 by ASGR. McCoy is rated No. 10 in the Class of 2016 by HoopGurlz.
Last but not least, UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph will visit Texas to watch players in tournament action.