Women’s Basketball: Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson make history


Morgan Tuck (#3), Moriah Jefferson (#4) and Breanna Stewart (#30) walk off the floor at the end of the national championship game after winning their fourth consecutive title. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

Four years ago, the recruiting class of Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson stepped onto campus for the first time as student-athletes. Stewart, the No. 1 recruit in the country, famously declared her goal was to win four national championships in her four years in Storrs, something that had never been done before.

Stewart made those dreams a reality this season, ending her historic career with an 82-51 win over her hometown school Syracuse for the trio’s fourth-straight national championship.

The victory marked an end to what is likely the greatest and most dominant class in the history of college basketball. Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson finished their four years at UConn with 151 wins, the most by a senior class in NCAA history. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, the three seniors ended their career as winners of 75 straight games since a loss on the road to Stanford early in their junior season and never lost an American Athletic Conference game.

All three members of the 2016 class have already been inducted into the Huskies of Honor. Stewart finished her decorated career as the only four-time winner of the Final Four Most Outstanding Player award and a three-time National Player of the Year. The Syracuse native finished her career in the top five in points, rebounds and blocks.

Jefferson wrapped up her four years as one of the best point guards to ever suit up for the Huskies, finishing as UConn’s all-time leader in assists with 659. She also finished her career second all time in steals.

Tuck ended her final year at UConn by crossing the 1,000-point plateau in just three seasons of play after missing her sophomore season with a knee injury. The redshirt junior elected to go out with her classmates, foregoing her final collegiate season and entering the WNBA Draft.

It’s safe to say that Tuck’s choice was the right one.

The three continued to make history even after their final game at UConn by becoming the first players from the same college team to go No. 1, 2 and 3 in the WNBA Draft. Stewart’s selection as No. 1 overall by the Seattle Storm made her the fifth Husky taken with the top pick. Jefferson went second to the San Antonio Stars and Tuck went third, staying in the Nutmeg State as she was drafted by the Connecticut Sun.

Stewart wasn’t done being in the spotlight. Just a few weeks after being selected by the Storm, the most decorated college basketball player of all-time signed an endorsement deal with Nike and was selected as a member of the 2016 USA women’s basketball Olympic Team as they head to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

While it would be ludicrous to assume head coach Geno Auriemma and company can bring a fifth-straight championship to Storrs next season, the team remains in position to be a national power for years.

Highly-touted point guard Crystal Dangerfield will suit up for the Huskies next fall, and the comparisons to Moriah Jefferson are already legitimate and obvious. To help fill Stewart’s void in the post, the Huskies landed 6-foot-6-inch Duke transfer Azura Stevens, a sophomore All-American honorable mention who averaged 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds. She’ll be eligible for the 2017-18 season.

Not to mention, there’s a talented young core already in place of Kia Nurse, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and Gabby Williams that already have a fair share of experience under their belt.

UConn will continue to be dominant in women’s basketball. They will be in contention for national championships and will continue to have scores of extremely talented players. But there will never be a class as talented and dominant as the trio of Stewart, Tuck and Jefferson.

Dan Madigan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at daniel.madigan@uconn.edu. He tweets @dmad1433.

Leave a Reply