PG – Evina Westbrook, Redshirt Junior*
After a transfer waiver rejection and a pair of knee surgeries last year, UConn finally gets to see what Westbrook can offer. The No. 2 player in the 2017 class (coming in behind UConn alum Megan Walker) is one of the oldest members of the team and will attempt to fill the gap left by Crystal Dangerfield. During her time at Tennessee, Westbrook ran a productive offense, putting up 15 points and 5.3 assists per game her sophomore season. The redshirt junior has great intangibles, but where she will help the Huskies out the most is with her ability to create clean looks for herself and her teammates. Westbrook will have some competition for minutes with No. 1 recruit Paige Bueckers and Nika Muhl behind her in the depth chart, but at least to start the season we will finally see Westbrook’s talent.
Though she is only a junior, Head Coach Geno Auriemma will be counting on Christyn Williams to be the veteran presence in a young UConn lineup. After being the No. 1 recruit in the country out of high school in 2018, Williams was named the 2018-19 American Athletic Conference Freshman of the year, averaging 11.7 points-per-game while shooting 49.9% from the field. As a sophomore, Williams improved across the board, scoring 15.6 points-per-game and starting in 31 of the team’s 32 games. She tallied double digit points in 25 games a season ago and scored more than 20 points nine times. She is entering her third season in a Husky uniform as the team’s presumptive top scoring option.
SG – Christyn Williams, Junior
SF – Anna Makurat, Sophomore
A slow start to her freshman year took a quick turn for the better, as Makurat burst onto the scene as one of UConn’s most complete players midway through last season. In her last eight games of the year, Makurat averaged 13 points, five assists and four rebounds, and was the only player on last year’s roster to get double digit assists in a game when she recorded 11 in their win against Memphis. Makurat has a great stroke — she shot 41% from three last season — and great vision, but where she garners the most praise from Geno is her constant intensity and drive to be better. Makurat has a lot to build off of from last season and has the offensive versatility to do whatever is asked of her on a nightly basis.
After spending her freshman year coming off the bench, Aubrey Griffin presumes to take the starting power-forward role for UConn as a sophomore. A year ago, Griffin averaged 6.4 points and 5.4 rebounds-per-game, which is very solid production for a freshman coming off the bench. The highlight of her freshman season was a brilliant 25-point, 12-rebound, 5-steal performance against Seton Hall last December. Now, those numbers are expected to skyrocket just as her playing time does. The 6-foot-1 sophomore’s presence in UConn’s frontcourt and especially on the offensive glass will be felt much more in 2020.
PF – Aubrey Griffin, Sophomore
C – Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Junior
One of the three juniors on this season’s team, ONO has been tasked with taking on a much bigger leadership role this season, something Geno Auriemma has praised her for repeatedly. On the court, Nelson-Ododa showcased her dominance in the paint on both ends last year. In her sophomore season, she finished second on the team in scoring (10.9), first in rebounding (8.5) and ranked No. 7 in the nation with 3.1 blocks per game, all highlighted in her career-best game against Oklahoma where she put up 27 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks. This is a young team, but with the addition of Paige Bueckers, Evina Westbrook and Nika Muhl among others, the Huskies are stacked with excellent facilitators that can feed ONO early and often as she attempts to have another career year as one of the leaders of this team.
*It’s worth noting that by season’s end, Bueckers could and will likely claim a spot in UConn’s starting five, but at least to start the season Geno will likely run with the above listed lineup.