It’s not unreasonable to assume that the 2022-23 season was not what Azzi Fudd had in mind. She played like an All-American in her first six games, highlighted by 88 points in three games against AP Top 10 opposition. After a rough 13 minutes against No. 7 Notre Dame, Aaliyah Edwards landed on Fudd’s leg, sidelining her for what felt like an eternity, but was just over a month.
After a decent performance against St. John’s and an early exit against Georgetown, Fudd re-aggravated the injury and missed another month and a half. Fudd returned in the opening game of the Big East tournament in what was a big win over the Hoyas, scoring 10 in 16 minutes. Two more decent performances in the semis and finals saw her increase her minute total to 32. This created hope that she’d be ready to take over a fatigued Huskies team and use her fresh legs to lead them to another Final Four.
In 28 minutes against Vermont, the Huskies didn’t struggle in a 45 point win, but Fudd did, with a 1-8 mark from deep. The first portion of the Baylor game wasn’t great either, but Fudd turned it on for an explosive 16 point second half. Some thought that the flip had switched for the sophomore, but an inefficient 14 points on 17 shots–along with many other factors–put the Huskies in the unusual position of spectators for the tournament’s final weekend.
Although many would consider the season a disappointment for Fudd and co, the portion of it that she was healthy for was incredibly encouraging. She absolutely lit up the future national runner-up Iowa Hawkeyes for 24 points, along with other great teams like NC State and Texas. It was her chance to act as the best player on the team and she did a great job of it. It’s always going to remain a large question mark of how the Huskies would have done without her injuries.
This year, Fudd should be positioned to have her best year yet. In Connecticut’s Europe tour, she looked very healthy. The once No. 1 recruit posted scoring tallies of 38, 19, 24 and 10, with the last coming in a shortened blowout game. Needless to say, Fudd was performing at a high level, albeit against low-level talent. Her bread and butter will always be shooting and scoring and the way this team is built positions her very well to thrive.
Although there was discussion last year of Fudd adding some facilitation to her game, the team has no need for it. With Paige Bueckers fully cleared and back in the fold, Nika Mühl coming off a season where she set the Huskies’ all time record for assists and freshman point guard KK Arnold potentially earning some playing time too, there isn’t room for more passing. Aubrey Griffin, Edwards and Ayanna Patterson will give the team plenty on the defensive and rebounding side, leaving scoring as the only thing Fudd needs to do.
As long as Fudd is shooting the way she has shown herself capable to do when healthy, she could pour in big numbers for the team. Success in a UConn uniform is all about knowing your role and all Fudd needs to do is feel comfortable firing up threes and scoring at will. Nothing has changed negatively skill-wise for her and she has at least some experience being the go-to player from last year and the Europe trip where Bueckers didn’t play.
With the Huskies well rested and ready to use their experience from last year, expect a big year from Fudd. It’s not unreasonable to expect her to go for near 20 points per game, as long as she stays healthy. Injuries have been her worst enemy throughout her relatively limited UConn career so far, so if she can stay on the floor and within her role as the team’s primary scorer, she could have her best season yet and be a massive part of a national championship squad.