Andra Espinoza-Hunter, an ESPN ranked No. 16 recruit out of high school, was the first from UConn’s 2017 recruiting class to transfer from the women’s basketball program. UConn has lost three out of the four recruits from that class, including Lexi Gordon and Mikayla Coombs. Megan Walker is the only one that remains.
“I knew that there was another school out there that would best suit me,” Espinoza-Hunter said. “Seeing Lexi and Mikayla leave doesn’t really confirm that I made the right decision. It just shows that sometimes the first school you choose isn’t always the one for you.”
Espinoza-Hunter averaged four points and seven minutes per game during seven games at UConn. In her debut game for Mississippi State against Virginia, Espinoza-Hunter finished the game with 13 points in 29 minutes.
Espinoza-Hunter said she enjoys being a Bulldog.
“I’m really happy. I was nervous about coming to a new school so far away from home. But everyone from my teammates, to coaches and the fans have welcomed me here with open arms,” Espinoza-Hunter said.
In her first season with the Bulldogs, Espinoza-Hunter played in 34 games. She missed the Bulldog’s exhibition game and season opener, due to waiting on eligibility confirmation from the NCAA. Although she transferred from a legendary program at UConn, she and her team were able to make it as far as the Elite Eight in the 2019 NCAA tournament.
Prior to the NCAA tournament, Espinoza-Hunter experienced her first conference championship, in which she scored a season high of 24 points. Winning the SEC regular season and tournament championship title are two things that Espinoza-Hunter referred to as her favorite part of the experience thus far.
Gordon, Coombs and Espinoza-Hunter have experienced a series of accomplishments with UConn, from sharing the excitement of coach Geno Auriemma’s 1000th win as a coach, to seeing their team make it to at least one Final Four. Gordon, who was an ESPN rank No. 29 out of high school, experienced her greatest number of minutes in her career with the Huskies during her freshman season at 10 minutes on two separate occasions and a career high of five points, which she also obtained her freshman season. Of the seven games that Gordon attended this season, she didn’t get into two, played less than a minute in one and had a high of four minutes in the games that she made an appearance.
Coombs on the other hand, an ESPN rank No. 13, made no appearance in the NCAA tournament past the first round this season. Coombs averaged 0.9 points, which is less than her freshman season, and 1.6 rebounds per game, with a season high of six points.
Players and the coaching staff of the program are sure to play a large role in the decision-making process and the process of adjusting to change. As for Gordon, she is in the midst of finding her way with the Texas Tech program since she transferred during the first semester, as Espinoza-Hunter did in the prior year.
“My teammates have played such a huge role in helping me adjust,” Espinoza-Hunter said. “Whether it’s on the court and learning coach’s system or off the court and figuring out campus.”
Their experiences will not only help them grow as players, but as teammates. Espinoza-Hunter plans to pay forward the kindness that her teammates have showed her. “I think I’ll be able to help the incoming freshmen by giving them the same advice I was given when I first got here,” she said.
Gordon is currently in the newcomer position that Espinoza-Hunter experienced as she prepares to play in her first season with the Raiders, while Coombs will go through that experience once she finalizes her decision.
“As soon as I stepped on campus I felt like I was at home,” Espinoza-Hunter said. “Everyone was so friendly to me and constantly greeted me and asked me how I was doing. Everyone down here genuinely cared about how I was doing which showed me this is a place I want to be.”
Hanaisha Lewis is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org