Sophomore Paige Bueckers became the first freshman to ever win the AP Player of the Year award last season — a more-than-deserved award after the Minnesota native’s exceptional first year at UConn. Bueckers was able to lead the Huskies to the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament with an average of 20 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds. Furthermore, she averaged 36.2 minutes per game, the most out of anyone on the team. This should come as no surprise, however, as her elite vision and playmaking ability, along with the threat she presents on all sides of the court, made it nearly impossible to take her out. Bueckers will once again be regarded as the main creative outlet and will hope to use her flashy skill set to lift the Huskies to their twelfth national championship — their first since 2016.
There isn’t much that hasn’t already been said about the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2021. Fudd is one of the greatest women’s basketball talents that has ever emerged. The 5’11” guard has been molded into a fundamentally sound player that knows the ins and outs of the game to a tee. Fudd averaged 25.1 points in the 71 total games she played in high school. These points came from her ability to drive at defenders and force her way into the paint at will, along with her excellent spot-up shooting ability. Furthermore, Fudd’s quick hands mean she was able to get steals on the defensive end and make the opposition uncomfortable. UConn nation excitedly awaits the debut of this jaw-dropping talent, and hope that she can have the same impact Bueckers had in her first year at the basketball capital of the world.
A veteran on this UConn side, Olivia Nelson-Ododa will look to have the same impact she’s had in her first three years as a Husky: complete and utter dominance under the rim on both sides of the court. Ododa’s large frame means she can seamlessly get past defenders inside the paint and convert layup after layup. Also, her long arms make it easy for her to get blocks and steals on the defensive end. The Georgia native finished last season with an average of 12 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, a near walking double-double. Ododa seemed to immediately connect with Bueckers, and it will be interesting to see how quickly she can develop an on-court relationship with Fudd, another ample playmaker.
Williams, a senior, is coming into her last year following a season where she scored an average of 16.3 points per game. She was part of the all-Big East First Team last year and the AAC First Team the year before, as well as unanimously being on the coach’s prediction list for the All-Big East team again this season. Williams will be useful in enabling teammates like Fudd and Bueckers, as well as providing a hand of experience to what is shaping up to be a very young team overall. Alongside her teammate of four years Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Williams will be looking to win her first NCAA championship after two Final Four stops, relying on what her and coach Geno Auriemma have described as a new mindset after last year’s Final Four defeat.
Sophomore Aaliyah Edwards was somewhat forgotten last year due to Paige Bueckers’ brilliance, but this year could be her time. She made the All-Big East Freshman Team last year averaging 10.7 points per game. Edwards, who was predicted by the Big East coaches to make the all- Big East team this year, got extra practice over the summer when she played for the Canadian National Team in the Tokyo Olympics, where they went out with 1-2 record. She’ll be looking to translate that experience into a sophomore year that improves on her freshman year and elevate herself out of Bueckers’ shadow and be a more recognized figure among the sophomore section of the lineup.