PHILADELPHIA -- Napheesa Collier was her stoic self whenever a postseason honor -- and there were many -- came her way last March.
So being named the American Athletic Conference preseason Player of the Year Monday by league coaches at AAC media day won't change anything for the junior forward.
"Obviously it's a great honor that people think that of me," Collier said. "But the season hasn't even started yet so I don't know how much of an affect it will have with anything for me. I'm going to work as hard as I always have."
A year ago, Collier was coming off hip surgery and was a preseason AAC second-team selection. She then went out and proved she was among the best players in the country and was named the AAC's Co-Player of the Year and a first-team All-American.
She was joined on the preseason first team by fellow UConn All-Americans Gabby Williams and Katie Lou Samuelson. Like Collier, Williams, a senior forward, was a unanimous choice to the first team. However, junior guard Samuelson -- who was the Co-Player of the Year with Collier and a unanimous first-team AAC pick and consensus first-team All-American last March -- was left off the preseason first team by at least one coach.
Central Florida senior guard Aliyah Gregory and South Florida junior guard Kitija Laksa round out the first team.
UConn was the unanimous choice to repeat as AAC regular season champion. The Huskies are 82-0 against league opponents since AAC play started in 2013-14.
"We have four starters back from the team that won it so I'd like to think most reasonable people in our league would vote for us to be preseason No. 1," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "Not that we have a lot of reasonable coaches in our league because not everybody voted for Lou for first team all-league. I guess you have to do something better than be Co-Player of the Year the year before to have everyone vote for you first team.
"Whether it means anything anymore, I don't know. I don't know if anyone is going to go buy a ticket because we're No. 1 in our conference. It's what it's supposed to be right now."
UConn senior guard Kia Nurse, who was the 2016 Preseason Player of the Year coming off her appearance in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro for Team Canada, was a second-team selection.
Collier led the AAC in scoring (20.4), field-goal percentage (67.8), and blocked shots (2.1) while also ranking third in rebounds. The St. Charles, Missouri, resident recorded 16 double-doubles and joined UConn's 1,000-point club on March 27 in its win over Oregon when she was named the NCAA Bridgeport Regional Most Outstanding Player. She had a career high 39 points against South Florida on Feb. 27.
Williams averaged career bests of 14.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 2.7 steals, and 1.4 blocked shots as a junior. The Sparks, Nevada, native shot 57.7 percent from the floor and recorded the fifth triple-double in Huskies' history against East Carolina on Jan. 24. She reached the 1,000-point plateau against Temple Feb. 22. She was a WBCA All-American and was honored by that organization and the league as their Defensive Player of the Year.
Samuelson, a native of Huntington Beach, California, averaged 20.2 points on 48.6 percent shooting from the floor, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists as a sophomore. She reached 1,000 points on Feb. 27 against USF and on March 6 in the AAC Tournament final against the Bulls, set a NCAA record by going 10-for-10 from 3-point land in a career high 40-point performance that earned her Most Outstanding Player honors.
Nurse averaged 12.7 points and 3.9 assists as a junior, leading the league in 3-point shooting percentage (46.2) and free-throw percentage (85.5). She was also fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.6). The Hamilton, Ontario, native scored her 1,000th career point against East Carolina on Jan. 24 and tied a NCAA Tournament record with nine 3-point baskets in the Huskies' second-round win over Syracuse at Gampel Pavilion.
Also named to the second team were Temple senior guard Alliya Butts, SMU senior forward Alicia Froling, USF senior forward Maria Jespersen, and Tulane senior guard Kolby Morgan. Butts, however, will miss the season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in practice on Wednesday. The school announced Friday that she will have surgery on the injured knee in the next two weeks.
UConn received the maximum 11 first-place votes. Coaches cannot vote for their own team or players. USF received UConn coach Geno Auriemma's first-place vote, nine second-place votes, and one third-place vote for a total of 110 points. Temple was third with 98 points. The Huskies, Bulls, and Owls represented the AAC in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
UCF (91 points) was picked for fourth followed by SMU (79), Tulane (73), Memphis (53), Cincinnati (50), Tulsa (43), conference newcomer Wichita State (31), Houston (27) and East Carolina (16). UConn's 16-game schedule begins Dec. 31 with a game against Memphis at the XL Center in Hartford. The Huskies will play home-and-home contests against UCF, Memphis, USF, Temple, and Tulane, host Cincinnati, Tulsa, and Wichita State, and visit East Carolina, Houston, and SMU.