In the history of UConn men’s and women’s basketball — through all 15 national championships — only three players have had the honor of getting their jersey retired: Rebecca Lobo, Ray Allen and, as of Monday, Swin Cash. Players only get their jerseys retired if they’re inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is an honor rewarding those who have had professional success. Many players who haven’t had such success likely won’t get the opportunity to see their jerseys in the rafters, even with their storied careers as a Husky. Today, the DC Sports section looks at the players most deserving of a jersey retirement who haven’t gotten it yet.
Stratton Stave, Associate Sports Editor: Breanna Stewart
This one feels about as inevitable as the sun coming up tomorrow, but I’ll still make the point: Breanna Stewart needs her number retired. She’s the best basketball player in UConn history — men’s or women’s — and could contend to be the best NCAA player of all time. For her standards, Stewart got off to a slow start to her career, not making an All-American team her freshman year, but found herself in the tournament and winning the Final Four MOP on her way to the title. The next three years Stewart left nothing to chance, winning AP Player of the Year, Final Four MOP and a National Championship each time. There’s only one player in NCAA history with four championships and four MOPs, and it’s her. There will never be another player at Stewart’s level who can win like she has, and there is zero doubt that she’ll find her jersey alongside Allen, Lobo and Cash some day in the future.
Cole Stefan, Staff Writer: Kemba Walker
If Allen can get his number retired after a memorable three years in Storrs and a Hall-of-Fame career, then so can Cardiac Kemba, who also played for three seasons under Jim Calhoun before he got selected as an NBA lottery pick. Although Walker has a smaller chance of being a Hall-of-Famer than Allen ever did, he still dominated the college game with 16.1 PPG, a 42.8 field goal percentage, two All-Big East selections and an All-American selection. Walker also has the leg up in March Madness games over Allen as he went to not one, but two Final Fours, finishing with a 2-1 record in the final two rounds. That postseason success also led to Walker earning a Big East Tournament MVP award, two NCAA All-Regional team selections and the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player award. Everyone remembers Walker for his stepback game-winner against Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Big East Tournament, but retiring his number will help fans remember him as one of the greatest college basketball players of all time.
Noah Reed, Campus Correspondent: Maya Moore
A two-time national champion with a record of 150-4 in four years should definitely get you in the rafters at UConn. Moore led UConn to back-to-back undefeated seasons and became one of the most successful Huskies of all time finishing as the women’s all-time leading scorer (3,036 points) while averaging 19.7 points per game. She racked up numerous accolades for her work on the court and in the classroom, including the AP Player of the Year in both 2009 and 2011. The awards don’t stop there, as Moore holds the record for most Wade Trophies, with three. In the 2011 WNBA draft, Moore was selected first overall and found success at the next level. She finished her career with four championships, a finals MVP award, and was the 2014 league MVP. After 2018, Moore turned her efforts to bring justice to the wrongfully convicted Jonathan Irons, whose conviction she helped overturn. Maya Moore emulates what it means to be a Husky with her dedication on and off the court.
Evan Rodriguez, Staff Writer: Rip Hamilton
Hamilton might not be in the National Basketball Hall of Fame, but he did just get inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame along with legendary coach Jim Calhoun. If you’ve followed my work for a long time, you already know how I feel about Hamilton, as my colleague Stratton Stave and I voted him as the greatest UConn men’s basketball player of all time. The statistics and accolades back it up, as Hamilton averaged 19.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game on route to a National Championship over Duke in 1999. He’s also got two consensus All-American selections and two Big East Player of the Year awards. Whether you disagree with my opinion on him being the best men’s basketball player to don the Huskies’ logo, you have to agree that he was, at the very least, one of the best UConn players of all time and should be rewarded for his work with his No. 32 in the rafters at Gampel Pavilion.
Ava Inesta, Campus Correspondent: Sue Bird
Sue Bird is considered one of the best women’s basketball players in history, as she had immense amounts of success in college and the WNBA. In her time with the Huskies, she led the team to two National Championships (2000 and 2002), three Big East Championships and Big East regular season titles. Bird was named the winner of the Nancy Lieberman Award in 2000, 2001, and 2002; the award given to the nation’s top point guard. I could go on and on about Sue Bird’s accomplishments as she continued her success in the WNBA, winning four championships across three different stages and decades of her career. Bird just wrapped up her final season in the WNBA and is now retired from basketball. It’s only a matter of time until she is eligible to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and she will possibly have her number retired by the UConn Huskies. Bird has carried her Husky pride through the WNBA, and it’s only right if she gets a banner with the No. 10 hanging from the ceiling of Gampel Pavilion.