The town of STORRS, Conn. Given the number of former UConn Huskies who have gone on to great success in the NBA, a women’s basketball practice at UConn may feature any number of famous faces. This week, the squad was joined by three-time Olympic gold winner and 2012 WNBA MVP Tina Charles, who played some one-on-one with starting forward Aaliyah Edwards during practice.
After her 2022 season with the Seattle Storm concluded, Charles became a free agent, and on Saturday, UConn shared a video of her casual game victory over Edwards, in which she won 4-2 and seemed very comfortable. Edwards, the junior, has a rich legacy from which to draw wisdom from Charles. Charles played for the Huskies from 2006 to 2010 and was a major factor in their back-to-back national championship seasons (2009 and 2010). In 2010, the Connecticut Sun selected her with the first overall choice. She has since played for the New York Liberty, Washington Mystics, Phoenix Mercury, and the Storm.
She coached the current Huskies, particularly the post guys, throughout Friday and Saturday’s practice. Though more than a decade has gone since Charles’s days at university, there are some similarities to how they were back then. Junior Nika Mühl claims that on Friday, associate head coach Chris Dailey instructed Charles to speed up. Lou Lopez Sénéchal, a graduate student who came to us from Fairfield, remarked that Charles never shied away from criticism when it came to his practice players.
Lopez Sénéchal thought it was “very fantastic for us” to have someone with so much experience in the league to learn from. “You automatically assume that they are seasoned pros; after all, she has played in the WNBA for thirteen years. You put so much faith in them, “Mühl remarked. “You can’t shake her, at least not on the court, with the way she plays and reads the game. It’s incredible to see her work; she’s as steady as a rock in the paint. Amazingly, [the alums] keep coming back for this experience, and it’s so amazing to witness.”
The advent of the transfer portal has been the single most important development in women’s collegiate basketball during the past few years. Moreover, I can think of nothing that might be as unexpected. Veteran players’ performances in new settings are as difficult to predict as those of first-year players in this new era of seemingly perpetual player migration.
The most recent ESPN rankings of the best transfers for 2022-23 include eleven players who did not make our preseason rankings. LSU’s Angel Reese has kept up her dominant performance, and she still leads the pack. However, beyond that, there aren’t many parallels.
Despite high hopes, not all key players have contributed significantly. Many others who went largely unnoticed in October made a splash with their new squads in the following months. The number of injuries has contributed significantly to the drop in production.
Ashley Owusu, ranked second heading into the season for Virginia Tech, has played in only seven games and is out indefinitely following finger surgery. Aijha Blackwell, who was ranked third on the preseason list, missed a month with a leg injury, and Dre’Una Edwards, who was ranked fourteenth, has eligibility issues and has yet to play.
Three of Tennessee’s four new transfer stars made the national top 25 in October. Only Rickea Jackson is left, and she’s way down in the rankings. For the most part, the Lady Vols’ difficult two months can be attributed to the underwhelming performance of its new players.
Texas, another team that was predicted to be in the top five but is now unranked, is in a similar position. Neither No. 19 Sonya Morris nor No. 25 Shaylee Gonzalez has performed well enough to be considered at this time.
The 11 newcomers on our list of transfer priorities have done the exact opposite, far outperforming our lofty projections. Some of those players have been instrumental in leading their clubs to unexpected heights in just two short months. A new top 10 features many of them directly behind Reese.