For most schools, landing a projected generational talent like Azzi Fudd would be a program-changing event. For a program like UConn’s, however, fans hope that Fudd brings the final piece of the puzzle to get the Huskies their first NCAA Championship since 2016.
Fudd, a shooting guard, arrives at UConn this fall boasting one of the most storied high school basketball careers ever. In 2018, she became the first high school sophomore ever to be awarded the Gatorade National Girls Player of the Year.
ORIGINS AND HIGH SCHOOL
Fudd has basketball in her blood; her mother Katie Smrcka-Duffy Fudd played at North Carolina State University and Georgetown before being drafted to the WNBA in 2001. Her career ended early and abruptly due to a knee injury, allowing her more time to focus on training Azzi. As a child, Fudd gained traction in the basketball world quickly, securing her first collegiate offer in sixth grade from Maryland.
Fudd had no trouble succeeding early in high school. As a freshman she scored 24 points per game, a number she would increase to 26 as a sophomore. Shortly after her sophomore season, Fudd was selected to participate in USA Basketball’s 3×3 national championship for the second straight year. Early on in the tournament, however, she injured her ACL and MCL, sidelining her for the rest of the tournament and for the entirety of her junior year.
Fudd was able to recover and made it back to the court healthy and ready for her senior year, but unfortunately due to COVID-19, her team was unable to string together a season.
Along with her other accolades, Fudd has a longstanding history with Team USA, where she has been competing for several years. Her first competition was in the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, where she became the youngest U.S. women’s player to take part in a U16 competition, winning gold as a 14-year-old rising freshman.
In 2018, Fudd competed both at the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s 3×3 U18 National Championship and at the U17 World Cup. In those two tournaments, she won silver and gold medals, respectively. On the U17 gold medal team, she was the youngest player on the roster.
This year, Fudd was part of a dominant run alongside fellow UConn freshman Amari DeBerry at the U19 World Cup, where they took gold.
As is common with star high school players, Fudd has her fair share of fame and celebrity connections. On Instagram, she has accumulated over 160,000 followers, including NBA Superstars Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry.
Curry has a longtime relationship with Fudd; the two met at Curry’s basketball camp in 2018. Fudd’s invitation to the camp in 2018 made her the first female player to attend after a history of only male prospects being invited. She held her own, winning the 3-point contest against several five-star prospects and even challenging Curry to an additional shootout.
Although Fudd didn’t beat the two-time NBA MVP, she still garnered high praise from Curry, who noted, “I think she has more of a textbook jumper than anyone I’ve seen. Maybe Klay Thompson and Azzi Fudd. … You go Ray Allen, Klay Thompson, and Azzi Fudd, textbook. You would teach somebody how to shoot with their form.”
Another generational basketball star can be found right here in Storrs: Paige Bueckers. Bueckers and Fudd met each other at tryouts for a Team USA squad in 2017. The two guards both made the team, which meant they spent a good chunk of the summer together, and their friendship has flourished ever since.
Bueckers also played a large role in Fudd’s recruitment to UConn, utilizing all the tools needed to create a “full court press.” She created the “GetAzziToUConn” hashtag on Twitter and even went as far to create a mixtape of her own passing highlights. She then played this video for Fudd and her family to demonstrate how many open shots Paige would be giving Azzi once they teamed up.
Fueled by their longstanding bond and chemistry on and off the court, Fudd and Bueckers will bring intense excitement to Storrs this year, as they team up to try to secure a twelfth national title for the Huskies.