Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Local Talent Collier Already Making Her Mark for No. 1 UConn

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Local Talent Collier Already Making Her Mark for No. 1 UConn

Article excerpt

When you're a freshman on the Connecticut women's basketball team, the odds are you'd be a starter almost anywhere else in the country.

Coach Geno Auriemma would prefer to make you wait on a team that is typically loaded with All-America candidates.

But at a practice on Dec. 10, Auriemma informed Napheesa Collier she would be making her first start the next day for the country's No. 1 team against then-No. 11 Florida State after seven games as a reserve.

"I was really excited coach had the faith in me to start, so I felt really honored," said Collier, who led Incarnate Word to its third consecutive Class 4 Missouri state title last year. "I definitely wasn't expecting it. It was a little nerve-racking starting my first game, but I knew what I had to do."

The 6-foot-1 freshman forward might not be surrendering that spot any time soon, if ever.

She has been filling the stat sheet for the unbeaten Huskies (12- 0), averaging 6.8 points and 6.8 rebounds. She is second on the team in steals and blocked shots. There also have been plenty of turnovers.

Collier has been named the freshman of the week in the American Athletic Conference twice.

"You could just sense she has it," Auriemma told media in Storrs, Conn. "She doesn't even know what she is doing yet, like most freshmen, but she has it. They have to trust their instincts, because they don't have the experience or the kind of subtle knowledge of the game that you have to have. So they go on instincts and talent. As far as that is concerned, she is right up there with the (more impactful) freshmen we have had come in."

Collier was being touted as the best female basketball player to come out of St. Louis when she committed to UConn in the spring of 2014. However, there is always a question about how players will transition to the next level.

She already has two double-doubles. She has had highs of 15 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, six steals and six blocked shots not all in the same game.

Although her natural ability has served her well in many games, Collier has not yet excelled against some of the top competition that UConn annually faces such as Notre Dame and Maryland. …

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