It’s Final Four time once again for UConn women’s basketball, the team’s 12th consecutive appearance actually, in case you lost track. While many great players have headlined UConn rosters in the past, Katie Lou Samuelson and Napheesa Collier are the seniors on the forefront of a roster that mostly has not seen a national championship atmosphere. Win or lose on Friday, we are here to decide which senior will leave the program with a greater legacy.
Kevin Arnold: Napheesa Collier has gotten a lot of the attention this year as being the team’s “best player,” which she very well may be, but Samuelson mark on the program is undeniable. The Hunting Beach, CA native stepped onto campus as one of the most decorated recruits the program as seen after being named the National Player of the Year by Gatorade, Naismith, USA Today, McDonald’s and WBCA, along with a gluttony of other accolades. She lead the team in made threes as a freshman (78), playing a major role on a National Championship team before solidifying her status as a elite shooter when she made 119 threes in year two, and eventually leading the nation with a 47.5 long-ball mark a year ago.
Andrew Morrison: As you said yourself, Collier is the best player on the team, and there’s no doubt about that. Averaging a double-double for the season, she leads the team in points (21.0), rebounds (10.8) and blocks (1.62) –– oh, and she did it on 62 percent (!!!) shooting. Collier is understated and her play isn’t flashy, so she may not get the headlines or national spotlight that Samuelson gets, but not naming her a finalist for the Naismith Trophy is a joke. Collier is a rare combination of size and athleticism, able to make a defender look silly in the post on one possession and dribble coast-to-coast for a layup on the next. As good as Samuelson is, you can’t argue that she’ll leave behind a greater legacy when she was never the best player on the roster.
Arnold: Well, without KLS the team would not be on their way to yet another Final Four. Samuelson put the team on her ailing back, scoring 29 points, including seven of the team’s 14 made threes, in the Elite Eight. Geno even said she was making shots not many players could make and she really separated herself from the pack. The two-time All-American has proven to be an invaluable asset to the program that expects to win titles year in and year out. If they are able to bring home their twelfth title in program history, Samuelson will have cemented herself amongst the greatest players to dawn the blue and white.
Morrison: When KLS gets going from deep, I agree that she is a more unstoppable player on the offensive side of the ball. But while Samuelson has improved on defense, she is still nowhere near the defensive player that Collier is. Collier may be the best—I take that back, she is the best — two-way player in college basketball. A First Team All-American as a sophomore and again this season, Collier is one of five Huskies in program history with over 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, but she’s also top-10 in blocks. As Geno said in March, “I don’t know anybody who means more to their team anywhere in the country than Phee.” No matter what happens this season, Collier will be remembered as one of the most best all-around contributors in program history.