UConn coaches to hit road for home visits

By Carl Adamec

A rule change by the NCAA means University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma and his staff will be a bit busier this month.

Coaches are now allowed to do in-home visit with high school juniors, and the Huskies will take advantage. The staff will also visit the three seniors — Sadie Edwards (5-foot-10 guard, Meriden, Conn.), Courtney Ekmark (6-0 guard, Phoenix, Ariz.), and Gabby Williams (5-11 guard, Sparks, Nev.) — that have made oral commitments to UConn, but a recruiting source said the coaches are planning visits with only two other members of the Class of 2014.

One trip will be to Hopkins, S.C., either Sept. 11 or Sept. 13 to visit A’ja Wilson, a 6-4 forward rated the No. 1 recruit in the senior class. The other will be to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, to visit Kia Nurse, a 6-0 guard. No date has been set for the visit due to Nurse’s commitment to the Canadian senior national team. Team Canada is participating in the 2013 FIBA Americas Championship in Mexico later this month in hopes of qualifying for the 2014 world championships.

Nurse comes from an athletic family. Her father, Richard, was a wide receiver for the Hamilton TigerCats of the Canadian Football League. Her brother, Darnell, was the first-round pick (seventh overall) of the Edmonton Oilers in the 2013 NHL Draft. Her sister, Tamika, played basketball at Oregon and Bowling Green. UConn fans may remember her aunt, Raquel, who played at Syracuse in mid-to-late 1990s. Raquel Nurse’s husband is former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb.

UConn is no longer involved with Kathryn Westbeld (a 6-2 forward, Kettering, Ohio) and Taylor Rooks (6-1 wing from Warren, N.J.). Another one-time target, Monique Billings (6-1 forward, Corona, Calif.) committed to UCLA last weekend.

The Huskies will visit three juniors. Asia Durr (5-10 guard, Douglasville, Ga.), rated the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015, will welcome UConn on Sept. 12. Durr’s teammate earlier this year on the U-16 national team, De’Janae Boykin (6-2 forward, Springdale, Md.) will get a visit Sept. 17. Napheesa Collier (6-1 wing, St. Louis) is scheduled for a visit Sept. 16.

Another UConn recruiting target from the Class of 2015, Katie Lou Samuelson (6-2 wing, Huntington Beach, Calif.), will not do home visits this month. Samuelson, who won a gold medal last weekend at the FIBA Americas U-18 3×3 tournament last weekend, is part of the United States team headed to Indonesia for the U-18 3×3 world championships later this month.

The period for home visits runs Sept. 9-29.

Dolson on the ‘Beat’
Stefanie Dolson admitted to being nervous about serving as guest host of Connecticut Public Television Sports’ panel discussion show “Beyond the Beat” Tuesday. But when the taping was complete at Gampel Pavilion, her smile was almost as big as the one she had at New Orleans Arena in April after UConn beat Louisville for the national championship.

“This was the first time I’d ever done anything like this,” Dolson said. “I’d say it was similar to the first college game. When you’re doing something like this for the first time, something that’s new to you, it’s nerve-wracking.”

UConn’s All-American center asked questions and engaged in conversation with the panelists — WFSB-TV3 in Hartford sports director Joe Zone, Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs, and New London Day columnist Mike DiMauro.

During the summer, she did an internship at SNY.

“I’ve kind of tried dabbling in a lot of different things,” Dolson said. “And after going to SNY this summer and kind of seeing what they do and how they do it … I also saw both ends. I saw what the people do behind the camera editing the shows and making the shows and then I was with (SNY’s) Kerith Burke and got to see this view of it where she’s in front of the camera talking. And I was like ‘I want to do that.’ “

But while Dolson sees herself in television in the future, right now it’s basketball first.

“You can’t play forever,” she said. “So I think I would play while I’m young and able to and my body can take it and just enjoy being overseas and the WNBA and just that whole experience. We’ll see where it takes me and then hopefully to commentating.”

Free throws
Sophomore Briana Pulido of Miami, Fla., a member of the UConn track and field team, is doing preseason workouts with the Huskies with the hopes of making the team as a walk-on. UConn has only nine scholarship players … Tickets to the Dec. 1 UConn-Ohio State game in the Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass, are on sale through Ticketmaster outlets, the MassMutual Center box office and on-line at Ticketmaster.com. Tickets prices for the day are $60, $30, $20 and $10. The four-game slate for the day has Bowling Green taking on Monmouth at 10 a.m., followed by Boston University against Old Dominion and Marist versus St. Bonaventure. UConn and Ohio State are scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. tip.